Month: February 2015

Are those who oppose gay marriage but accept divorce simply hypocrites?

Christian advocates of traditional marriage are often criticized for defending our faith’s definition of marriage while seemingly ignoring its teachings about divorce.   “Opponents of gay marriage say they are defending the institution of marriage, but if that were really true why aren’t they spending at least as much time and vigor attacking divorce?” wrote Austin Cline in the Huffington Post. It’s an exceedingly fair critique.Kirsten Powers took it further. In her USA Today column, she wrote that if people wanted to enshrine religious traditions governing marriage, then how about a law that “bans divorce except in the very narrow circumstances the Bible permits it.” “This would be a tough one for evangelicals, since their divorce rate is almost identical to that of atheists and agnostics,” Powers wrote. “This might explain why you don’t see evangelical leaders pumping hundreds of thousands of dollars into campaigns to keep the government from providing divorce.”Powers and Cline are touching upon the admonition against being a hypocrite. “Why look at the speck in your brother’s eye while you miss the plank in your own,” Jesus asked (Matthew 7:3). Studies of divorce rates in America by religious affiliation are notoriously controversial, but according to a 2012 report by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University, 36-percent of the general population had experienced divorce. The report then showed that 39-percent of Protestants and 28-percent of Catholics had been divorced. Other reports show similar numbers. So why do we Christians experience divorce as commonly as everyone else?…

It’s been a tough time for advocates of traditional marriage

Believers in traditional marriage have had a challenging few weeks down in Alabama. Not only have we witnessed the demise of our right to define marriage within the boundaries of our state, we’ve been called hateful bigots, told we’re on the wrong side of history and that the good among us will eventually evolve and abandon our prejudiced beliefs altogether. “Love Wins,” was a popular slogan seen outside courthouses and on Twitter feeds, implying that hate was on the other side. Some described Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore as “standing in the courthouse door,” linking our defense of traditional marriage to former Gov. George Wallace’s defense of segregation at the University of Alabama. Others predicted that in a decade we’ll all come around and call our current efforts “ancient history,” complaining when they’re mentioned, like we do about our state’s history of racism.All of those notions are wrong.First, our support of traditional marriage isn’t rooted in hatred. Quite the opposite. It’s rooted in our love of Christ and a desire for his will rather than our own.The resulting internal conflict isn’t easy. Personally, my own will would have me support gay marriage. On one hand, my conservative philosophy dictates that I should support most individual liberties as long as they’re not hurting anyone (it’s arguable that the infrequency of traditional marriage hurts everyone, but let’s set that aside for the moment). On the other hand, my heart tends to say “live and let live.” It’s also hurtful to be called…

Conservatives must oppose Gov. Bentley’s tax increases

Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley speaks during the Mobile Area Chamber of Commerce Legislative Lunch Monday, Feb. 2, 2015, at the Renaissance Mobile Riverview Plaza Hotel in Mobile, Ala. (Mike Brantley/mbrantley@al.com)J. Pepper Bryars When Governor Robert Bentley first asked for our vote in 2010, he promised that he wouldn't raise taxes. He even signed a well-known document called the Taxpayer Protection Pledge. It read, "I, Robert Bentley pledge to the taxpayers of the state of Alabama, that I will oppose and veto any and all efforts to increase taxes." During his reelection campaign last year, Bentley repeated his policy, this time proudly repeating a three-word promise that, for the moment, remains prominently displayed on his 2014 campaign website: "No New Taxes." AL.com Opinion About the writer J. Pepper Bryars grew up in Mobile and is now a writer living in Huntsville. Contact him at jpepperbryars@gmail.com and jpepperbryars.com. More opinion on AL.com "Our promise to the people of Alabama is to run this state as efficiently as possible, without raising taxes," reads another line from the "Issues" section of the website. "And that's exactly what we've done." At least until now. Despite his signed pledge and repeated assurances on the campaign trail, Bentley recently told a group of lawmakers and business leaders in Mobile that he indeed plans to raise taxes on Alabamians. Conservatives must oppose Bentley's effort, completely and without reservation. While details of the governor's plan remain unclear, he told reporters that his administration is targeting deductions and "unequally paid…

Why I am thankful for Roy Moore

Chief Justice Roy Moore Last month Roy Moore took what's becoming an all-too-rare stand against judicial activism in America. "As Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, I will continue to recognize the Alabama Constitution and the will of the people overwhelmingly expressed in the Sanctity of Marriage Amendment," Moore wrote in a letter to the governor. He was responding to a federal judge's ruling saying that Alabamians don't have the right to define marriage as exclusively between one man and one woman. AL.com Opinion About the writer J. Pepper Bryars grew up in Mobile and is now a writer living in Huntsville. Contact him at jpepperbryars@gmail.com and jpepperbryars.com. More opinion on AL.com Moore was quickly denounced as a "renegade judge," a "loony bigot" and was hit with an ethics complaint by the Southern Poverty Law Center. Good for him. After watching lawmakers loudly complain about federal judges, but then meekly abide by their rulings without any serious action, it's refreshing to see someone finally push-back in a real way. Whatever side of the aisle you're on, it should be troubling that our democratic society so easily -- and perhaps too eagerly -- bends the knee to the bench on practically every issue. Is there anything that isn't under their purview? Is there anything that "we the people" can decide for ourselves? It appears that when the courts decide those questions for themselves, without any serious check and balance, the answer is clearly "no." It's not that federal courts don't have…