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FDA Undermines Parents

FDA Undermines Parents

Perhaps you have heard the buzz going around about Plan B®. On Tuesday, April 30th 2013, the FDA approved the marketing and sale of Plan B®, a potent emergency contraceptive, to girls as young as the age of 15 with no prescription required. This move of Plan B® to over-the-counter (OTC) status bothers me greatly as a Christian, as a pharmacist, and more importantly as a parent. I hope in this post to provide you with sound information to navigate this tragic downfall of medical wisdom and blatant intrusion into the parent/teen relationship brought about by the FDA’s ruling.

First off, I want to speak to you from the unique perspective of a pharmacist and bi-vocational minister. I want to put my cards on the table early, and tell you I have never sold any form emergency contraceptive to any patient under any circumstance. My conviction that life begins at conception frequently puts me at odds with many in the medical community concerning issues of life and contraception. My aim is to hold fast to my beliefs and to educate others in the truth about emergency contraception.

As I did research on the proposed mechanism of action for emergency contraceptives, such as Plan B®, I found several proposed mechanisms for preventing pregnancy. Plan B®’s website list the following possibilities:

Plan B works mainly by stopping the release of an egg from the ovary. It is possible that Plan B One-Step® may also work by preventing fertilization of an egg (the uniting of the sperm with the egg) or by preventing attachment (implantation) to the uterus (womb).

The first two proposed mechanisms are similar to the way monthly oral contraceptives work, but it is the last possibility that prevents me from selling the product. The manufacturer says that this drug may prevent the implantation of an already fertilized and viable embryo into the uterus wall thereby causing the body to abort this viable life. Now I am not saying that in every case of emergency contraception use prevention of implantation is the only mechanism possible, but I am saying that in every case of use, it is possible. In most of the literature on emergency contraceptive, this mechanism is downplayed or ignored all together. To allow young girls access to such a drug without this vital information clearly violates the patient’s right to informed consent.

Another problem I have with the approval of the over-the-counter sale of Plan B® is the FDA appears to be setting a double standard. Levonorgestrel, the active ingredient found in Plan B®, is allowed this privileged OTC status only in emergency contraceptive product formulations such as Plan B® or Next Choice®. Levonorgestrel, found in 19 other formulations for routine monthly oral contraception, is still available only by prescription under the supervision of physicians and pharmacists. This prescription-only status stresses that the FDA believes monthly use of Levonorgestrel is best managed by doctors who can perform annual health screenings, such as pap smears, to rule out sexually-transmitted diseases and cervical cancer. With Plan B now available to teens with no screening or medical care, we are not promoting women’s health but in reality suppressing much needed care to some of our youngest patients. Two separate studies performed in both the U.K. and the U.S. have found that STD rates increase as much as 12% with OTC access to emergency contraceptives such as Plan B®. Without screenings and education, we are putting women at risk.

Finally, emergency contraceptives are not intended as primary means of contraception as Plan B®’s own website declares. Allowing unlimited, unsupervised use of emergency contraceptives will lead to overuse. I have seen this in my own practice as women come in time and time again for an emergency contraceptive that states on the packaging is not intended to be used as a primary means of contraception. Allowing Plan B® OTC to girls as young as 15 will further send the message that emergency contraception is a primary option for continual use. This exposes young girls to repeated high doses of Levonorgestrel leading to common side effects like: nausea, vomiting, fatigue, dizziness, lower abdominal pain, and menstrual irregularities. In fact each dose of Plan B One-Step® contains as much Levonorgestrel as 15 days of monthly oral contraceptives that require a prescription from a doctor. These high doses of hormones are not safe as primary means for contraception, and access to such drugs should be overseen by appropriate healthcare providers.

As a Doctor of Pharmacy looking at the debate over OTC availability to emergency contraceptives for teenage girls, I am baffled at the decision of the FDA last week. This decision will lead to overuse of high potency emergency contraceptives and reduce doctor/patient encounters for proper health screenings. This decision is a step backwards for women’s health.

Looking at this debate as the father of a little girl, I am outraged that the FDA would undermine parent’s involvement in the lives of their children. As parents, we have every right to be involved in all decisions concerning our children’s health. Now teenage girls are faced with enormous health decisions apart from parental involvement and without physician guidance. This is unacceptable!! Our children deserve better than this!!

The FDA granting OTC status of emergency contraceptives to girls age 15 and older should be a wake-up call to us all. Where we have opportunity, we need to speak out against foolish policies that are infringing upon our rights as parents, endangering the lives of our children, and most of all, taking the lives of the innocent. We must be vigilant in teaching our children to navigate such issues with godly wisdom. We should pray for God to change the hearts and minds of those in office making laws and judgments. The FDA ruling is stimulating conversations, and the truth will always triumph. I leave you with this from Galatians 6:9, “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.

The Giglio Imbroglio – The public inauguration of a new Moral McCarthyism

The Giglio Imbroglio – The public inauguration of a new Moral McCarthyism

>> by R. Albert Mohler Jr.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (BP) — A new chapter in America’s moral revolution came today as Atlanta pastor Louie Giglio withdrew from giving the benediction at President Obama’s second inaugural ceremony. In a statement released to the White House and the Presidential Inaugural Committee, Giglio said he withdrew because of the furor that emerged yesterday (Jan. 9) after a liberal watchdog group revealed that almost 20 years ago he had preached a sermon in which he had stated that homosexuality is a sin and that the “only way out of a homosexual lifestyle … is through the healing power of Jesus.”

In other words, a Christian pastor has been effectively disinvited from delivering an inaugural prayer because he believes and teaches Christian truth.

The fact that Giglio was actually disinvited was made clear in a statement from Addie Whisenant of the Presidential Inaugural Committee:

“We were not aware of Pastor Giglio’s past comments at the time of his selection, and they don’t reflect our desire to celebrate the strength and diversity of our country at this inaugural. Pastor Giglio was asked to deliver the benediction in large part because of his leadership in combating human trafficking around the world. As we now work to select someone to deliver the benediction, we will ensure their beliefs reflect this administration’s vision of inclusion and acceptance for all Americans.”

That statement is, in effect, an embarrassed apology for having invited Louie Giglio in the first place. Whisenant’s statement apologizes for the Presidential Inaugural Committee’s failure to make certain that their selection had never, at any time, for any reason, believed that homosexuality is less than a perfectly acceptable lifestyle. The committee then promised to repent and learn from their failure, committing to select a replacement who would “reflect this administration’s vision of inclusion and acceptance.”

The imbroglio over Louie Giglio is the clearest evidence of the new Moral McCarthyism of our sexually “tolerant” age. During the infamous McCarthy hearings, witnesses would be asked, “Are you now or have you ever been a member of the Communist Party?”

In the version now to be employed by the Presidential Inaugural Committee, the question will be: “Are you now or have you ever been one who believes that homosexuality (or bisexuality, or transsexualism, etc.) is anything less than morally acceptable and worthy of celebration?”

Louie Giglio, pastor of Atlanta’s Passion City Church, also is founder of the Passion movement that brings tens of thousands of Christian young people together to hear Giglio, along with speakers such as John Piper. They urge a rising generation of young Christians to make a passionate commitment to Christ. In recent years, the movement also has sought to raise awareness and activism among young Christians on the issue of sex trafficking. It was that activism that caught the attention of both President Obama and the Presidential Inaugural Committee.

Note carefully that both the White House and the committee were ready to celebrate Giglio’s activism on sex trafficking, but all that was swept away by the Moral McCarthyism on the question of homosexuality.

Two other dimensions of this story also demand attention. First, we should note that Louie Giglio has not been known lately for taking any stand on the issue of homosexuality. To the contrary, Giglio’s own statement withdrawing from the invitation made this clear:

“Due to a message of mine that has surfaced from 15-20 years ago, it is likely that my participation, and the prayer I would offer, will be dwarfed by those seeking to make their agenda the focal point of the inauguration. Clearly, speaking on this issue has not been in the range of my priorities in the past fifteen years. Instead, my aim has been to call people to ultimate significance as we make much of Jesus Christ.”

A fair-minded reading of that statement indicates that Pastor Giglio has strategically avoided any confrontation with the issue of homosexuality for at least 15 years. The issue “has not been in the range of my priorities,” he said. Given the Bible’s insistence that sexual morality is inseparable from our “ultimate significance as we make much of Jesus Christ,” this must have been a difficult strategy. It is also a strategy that is very attractive to those who want to avoid being castigated as intolerant or homophobic. As this controversy makes abundantly clear, it is a failed strategy. Louie Giglio was cast out of the circle of the acceptable simply because a liberal watchdog group found one sermon he preached almost 20 years ago. If a preacher has ever taken a stand on biblical conviction, he risks being exposed decades after the fact. Anyone who teaches at any time, to any degree, that homosexual behavior is a sin is now to be cast out.

Second, we should note that Pastor Giglio’s sermon was, as we would expect and hope, filled with grace and the promise of the Gospel. Giglio did not just state that homosexuals are sinners — he made clear that every single human being is a sinner, in need of the redemption that is found only in Jesus Christ. “We’ve got to say to the homosexuals, the same thing that I say to you and that you would say to me … It’s not easy to change, but it’s possible to change,” he preached. He pointed his congregation, gay and straight, to “the healing power of Jesus.” He called his entire congregation to repent and come to Christ by faith.

That is the quintessential Christian Gospel. That is undiluted biblical truth. Those words are the consensus of the church for over 2,000 years and the firm belief held by the vast majority of Christians around the world today.

The Presidential Inaugural Committee and the White House have now declared historical, biblical Christianity to be out of bounds, casting it off the inaugural program as an embarrassment. By its newly articulated standard, any preacher who holds to the faith of the church for the last 2,000 years is persona non grata. By this standard, no Roman Catholic prelate or priest can participate in the ceremony. No evangelical who holds to biblical orthodoxy is welcome. The vast majority of Christians around the world have been disinvited. Mormons and the rabbis of Orthodox Judaism are out. Any Muslim imam who could walk freely in Cairo would be denied a place on the inaugural program. Billy Graham, who participated in at least 10 presidential inaugurations, is welcome no more. Rick Warren, who incited a similar controversy when he prayed at President Obama’s first inauguration, is way out of bounds. In the span of just four years, the rules are fully changed.

The gauntlet was thrown down yesterday, and the ax fell today. Wayne Besen, founder of the activist group Truth Wins Out, told The New York Times yesterday: “It is imperative that Giglio clarify his remarks and explain whether he has evolved on gay rights, like so many other faith and political leaders. It would be a shame to select a preacher with backward views on LBGT people at a moment when the nation is rapidly moving forward on our issues.”

And there you have it — anyone who has ever believed that homosexuality is morally problematic in any way must now offer public repentance and evidence of having “evolved” on the question. This is the language that President Obama used of his own “evolving” position on same-sex marriage. This is what is now openly demanded of Christians today. If you want to avoid being thrown off the program, you had better learn to evolve fast, and repent in public.

This is precisely what biblical Christians cannot do. While seeking to be gentle in spirit and ruthlessly Gospel-centered in speaking of any sin, we cannot cease to speak of sin as sin. To do so is not only to deny the authority of Scripture, not only to reject the moral consensus of the saints, but it undermines the Gospel itself. The Gospel makes no sense and is robbed of its saving power, if sin is denied as sin.

An imbroglio is a painful and embarrassing conflict. The imbroglio surrounding Louie Giglio is not only painful, it is revealing. We now see the new Moral McCarthyism in its undisguised and unvarnished reality. If you are a Christian, get ready for the question you will now undoubtedly face: “Do you now or have you ever believed that homosexuality is a sin?” There is nowhere to hide.

Original post:

Contemporary Issues: Prostitute

Contemporary Issues: Prostitute


Oh good! I have your attention. It’s a word that people hear and judgement begins to pour out. On others.

As I blog about this, it’s Human Slavery Day, and I think of all the girls in this business. We think of them. Pray for them. But what about us?

The definition of prostitution is: One who sells one’s abilities, talent, or name for an unworthy purpose.  I wonder how many of us are guilty of this more general defintion?

You might be thinking, that’s absurd!  However, we sell ourselves short all too often when we do not allow God to work through our abilities and opportunities.  I think of Hosea and Gomer.  Gomer continually turned her back on Hosea giving herself to lustful men (to whom she wasn’t married).  She ran from her faithful love, Hosea, and yet he continued to pursue her. Just like Christ does us.  “Then the LORD said to me, “Go and love your wife again, even though she commits adultery with another lover. Hosea 3:1.”

Our relationship with God can be just like this.  We continually allow other things, other loves, to come between us and our relationship with God. Sometimes it is passive. We get busy doing–even doing noble things. But even in that sometimes we turn away from God’s desire to work in and through us.

Are you running from God? You have one life.  How are you using it to benefit God’s kingdom?  It truly comes down to one question:  Do you trust God in your work, your relationships, your plans?  If we believe He is who is says He is and that He will do what He says He will do, we would not allow anything to come between us and the one who created us and loves us.  When we truly trust God, only then do we return to him and leave the “lovers” to which we prostitute ourselves.

Only then do we return to our True Love.

‘Les Mis’ is year’s ‘most gut-wrenching, yet profound film’

‘Les Mis’ is year’s ‘most gut-wrenching, yet profound film’

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (BP) — Before I saw the press screening for the film adaptation of the stage musical “Les Miserables,” I read two articles that tied the production together with the politically provocative Wall Street occupiers. Victor Hugo’s central story revolves around the morality tale of an escaped prisoner named Jean Valjean, who undergoes a life-altering experience while the obsessive Inspector Javert hunts him down. But these journalists exploited the political and social revolt, which only served as a backdrop to the main story. Like the film’s antagonist, they missed the point of Les Miserables’ biblical parable.

I have read Victor Hugo’s “Les Miserables” and “The Hunchback of Notre Dame.” Both reveal the evil that men can do to one another, but both also offer an insightful pathway to salvation, both spiritually and socially.

First things first: How’s the film? The highly anticipated movie opens Christmas Day and in my view it is the best film of the year.

Mr. Hugo’s 1,200-page novel addresses some of the most inspiring subjects ever placed on paper: Man can find redemption and he can replace anger and fear with compassion and faith. The most powerful component of the book, the plays and past movie versions has always been Jean Valjean’s conversion once he experienced God’s mercy. Great news — this same spiritual truth remains intact in this new, rather extraordinary rendition.

The bedeviled Inspector Javert lives by the letter of the law in hope of salvation, whereas Jean Valjean has been transformed by mercy shown him and lives the rest of his life governed by this newfound compassion. This change takes root once a man of God shows a kindness Valjean has never known. He is then transfigured by God’s love (which even changes his outer countenance, as evidenced in the film when Javert doesn’t recognize the very man he has been hunting).

Les Miserables is a parable that clearly conveys the difference between the Bible’s Old Testament, where man is dependent upon the laws of God in order to find deliverance, and the New Testament’s revelation of God’s sacrifice that paid our sin debt. This message is successfully and most passionately brought to this screen production.

It may be impossible to single out one talent, as no one associated with the film missed a step or musical cue (all the numbers were recorded during the filming, no lip-syncing). Both cast and crew took on the challenge of this screen adaptation respectfully, fully aware of the significance of the book’s theme. The vigilant director, Tom Hooper, used his camera to spellbind us and perfectly cast his two male leads. Javert (Russell Crowe) and Valjean (Hugh Jackman) are a symbolic yin and yang that represent what mankind is and what we can become.

Crowe’s Javert is not a villain. He’s an honorable man. But he has no comprehension of a love that can forgive all. He conducts his life by a code of honor, unable to accept weakness in others or himself. Javert just doesn’t get grace or forgiveness. The Oscar-winning actor gives dimension to a role that could have been stilted and pantomime villainous. Jackman as Valjean gives a pitch-perfect portrayal of a man who has felt God’s love. His character may not understand God’s charity, but his soul is reborn by it.

I said it may be impossible to single out one person from the production. I stand corrected. Anne Hathaway’s Oscar-worthy performance as Fantine, a degraded woman struggling to support her child, may be the best-written, best-acted female role ever. It is difficult to sit through her ordeals, as the little she has (her hair, her teeth, her virtue) are systematically taken from her in order that she might raise money to keep her child alive. Hathaway’s “I Dreamed a Dream” was a shared audience moment I’ll never forget. As the song ended, everyone in attendance applauded as if they were attending live theater. Indeed, there were several instances when the audience clapped as if needing to release their emotion and appreciation. The empathy in the movie theater was palpable. Her song delivery is the most powerful screen moment from this year and I would have to struggle to remember a finer performance from an actress.

At the end of a press conference that featured most of the cast, the producers and its director Hooper, I went up to Mr. Hooper as he was exiting the room and asked, “Mr. Hooper, how many takes did Anne need on that song?”

He said, “Eight. She had it in four, but she felt she could do more. And she did. I was only a few feet away from her and I felt the anguish of any human who has undergone such cruelty. The feeling on the set was electric, unlike anything I had ever felt at the end of a take.”

The weakest element of the production, for me, is the student revolution backdrop. While timely, as evidenced by the uprising seen by the have-nots toward the haves throughout the world, the film’s subplot fails to tell us just exactly what the disenfranchised expect. The uprisers kill soldiers and soldiers kill them, but nothing changes the establishment. Perhaps that’s the point. Fairness and justice don’t come by war or even law. They come from a change of heart. Don’t misread me; there is a time for war and a need for law. But as the film’s director wisely noted, “Real change starts with love for those we see around us.”

I recently contacted an actor who has been associated with the musical play for years. I wanted his input concerning Victor Hugo’s agenda.

Actor J. Mark McVey played the role of Valjean in Les Miserables more times than any other performer — 2,800 times or more. He’s traveled the world with the show. Mark is a devout believer in Christ and speaks eloquently of the rich Christian symbolism in the story of “Les Mis.” I asked Mark the following: Was Mr. Hugo saying a spiritual love is needed in order to change our world? Or did he also advocate a violent overthrow of corrupted political governing?

“I think he was doing a bit of both,” Mark said. “He certainly was an advocate for the power of spiritual love to move or shift the human heart to new understanding if not outright acceptance of grace. In the case of Valjean, Hugo showed the awakening of an animal that had clearly, at some point in his life, closed his heart to anything that resembled love or compassion.

“As for the political statement, Hugo was an advocate for human rights and could not help himself from commenting on his times. It might be unfair to say he advocated violence, but he certainly brought social issues to light and may even have gotten the ball rolling, as did others — Dickens for example — by giving a voice to the unheard masses.”

I’m sure Mark is correct concerning the author’s intent. But it is unmistakably the love aspect that affects everyone in the play. The revolt is ineffectual, whereas it is the spiritual love that eventually motivates every main character. Deeds of sacrifice and charity change everyone’s heart, except Javert, who becomes symbolic of the stalemate that results when the heart refuses to accept God’s grace.

So, how can we get compassion to change the deeds of those who rule over our political, social and economic wellbeing?

We can’t.

But God can.

Though there is some PG-13 content in the film, it is not there to be exploitive, but rather is used to give credence to the story and to viscerally work on our emotions. Bring hankies as you will be wounded by the injustices. Gratefully, you will also be uplifted by the film’s spiritual resonance. Les Miserables is the most gut-wrenching, yet profound film of the year.

Created male and female with a divine purpose

Created male and female with a divine purpose

We human beings are most preoccupied with ourselves. Our efforts to define ourselves are numerous.

Today, defining issues of gender and sexuality are nothing short of consuming. Of great significance is the question of whether are we the mere product of a random Darwinian process, or do we have a soul, possess an innate spiritual capacity, and have unique and special value which is bestowed by a Creator? Every era poses new questions like these to be addressed by the Christian faith. For Baptists, nonetheless, answering and responding to these questions begins with the Scriptures and, particularly, the beginning of all things.

We human beings, male and female, are created beings. Gen. 1:27 is clear that “God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” Baptist confessions of faith always begin explaining who we are by referring to who created us. “Man is the special creation of God, made in His own image.” (BF&M 2000, Article III) Further, “The gift of gender is thus part of the goodness of God’s creation.” (BF&M 2000, Article III) Men and Women are both image bearers, intended to be renewed into the image or likeness of Christ (Col. 3:10; Rom. 8:29), and created to bring glory to God (Isa. 43:6-7; I Cor. 10:31), among many other aspects of likeness.  At the same time, they are two different genders and sexes who bear more than biological distinctions. With this in mind, we all should define ourselves both male and female, first and foremost by our relationship with God our Creator. God designed us, and we are valuable to Him, which gives us a basis for human dignity. (Ps. 8: 4-6).

We are complex beings. While our physical and biological being is intricate and special, we are spiritual beings with a soul which is immortal (Matt. 10:28), each person with a different personality.  While the Bible does not provide us with an explicit definition of the “image of God,” it provides us with a rich theological content for it. Our spirit, or soul, as a part of that image as spiritual beings provides us with both the capacity and the desire to know God and experience genuine eternal fulfillment of our entire being. Our body is a gift from God, and it is good, but we are whole persons—body and soul or spirit. (Gen. 2:7; Luke 1: 46-47; Matt. 10:28; I Cor. 5: 3-5, for example)

We are volitional beings. We are rational, thinking beings who have a will and make choices. We have historically confessed as Baptists that, “In the beginning, man was innocent of sin and was endowed by His Creator with freedom of choice.” The choice of Adam and Eve was to sin against God and since then all humans have “… a nature and an environment inclined toward sin.” In other words, sin is a part of our nature and of the world around us. We can refer to it as a fallen world and ourselves as fallen sinful beings. (Rom. 3:10, 23; 5:12) As God’s image bearers, we are morally accountable to God, and we make free or willing choices when we commit sin.

We are created to dwell in community with one another, especially as believers as the church. Rampant individualism and consumerism have diminished the value of strong personal and spiritual relationships in a Christian faith community. There is a genuine need for a renewed commitment to the Baptist emphasis on the faith community for both single and married persons. (Acts 2:44-47) We need each other.

We have a purpose and “Only the grace of God can bring men into His holy fellowship and enable man to fulfill the creative purpose of God. “ (BF&M 2000) God’s grace is fully given to us in Christ.