Light Magazine Spotlight Articles

Contending for the Next Generation

Meeting challenges for families with a faithful witness

“I am the way, the truth, and the life,” Jesus famously told his disciples—a description that points to his identity and how we can best share him with others. Christ has given his Church the privilege and responsibility of proclaiming the good news of the gospel while caring for our neighbors, speaking up for the vulnerable, and advocating for human flourishing in every arena of life.

But that not only means actively living out our faith, but preserving our freedom to do so, even in the face of growing opposition.

My work with Alliance Defending Freedom—a global Christian legal ministry committed to advancing each person’s God-given right to live and speak the truth—gives me a front-row seat to the challenges people of faith across the country face.

It also gives me a profound appreciation for groups like the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) who are working alongside us to protect the dignity and freedoms of all Americans. Together, we look forward, preparing for new challenges and thoughtfully evaluating where best to engage so that we can promote human flourishing and seek the welfare of our communities, marriages, and families.

Challenges to Flourishing Families

We are well aware of the challenges in the pro-life space, which affects the health of families. The overturning1“What You Need to Know About the Biggest Abortion Case Since Roe v. Wade,” Alliance Defending Freedom, February 8, 2023, of Roe v. Wade was extraordinary, but there is still much work to be done. Pro-life pregnancy centers (PRCs) and churches have been attacked,2Jonah McKeown, “TRACKER: Pro-abortion attacks in the U.S. continue (updated),” March 20, 2022, some churches are being compelled3“Skyline Wesleyan Church Sued California for Forcing It to Pay for Abortions,” Alliance Defending Freedom, October 26, 2022, to cover abortions in their health insurance plans, and PRCs are even being forced to promote abortion.4 “Victory! Connecticut Pro-Life Pregnancy Center Won’t Be Forced to Speak Against Its Mission,” Alliance Defending Freedom, July 11, 2022, In addition, the federal government is making chemical abortions5Grant Atkinson, “The FDA Won’t Stop Pushing Abortion Drugs,” Alliance Defending Freedom, February 8, 2023, increasingly available—even while removing crucial safeguards.

But the denigration of life doesn’t stop with mothers and babies.

Licensed professionals are under government pressure on other fronts. In Washington and other states, Christian counselors who want to help minors achieve their goal of living at peace with their sex are forbidden by law from even having these conversations about gender identity.6 Roger Brooks, “Tingley V. Ferguson,” Alliance Defending Freedom, March 27, 2023, A counselor’s failure to comply can mean costly fines and even the loss of their counseling license, despite growing scientific evidence that physical and social “transition” can lead to physical and emotional devastation.

Similar intrusions on both religious freedom and the health and well-being of children are having an impact on more and more families throughout the country. The Biden administration, for instance, is using agency regulations to circumvent U.S. Supreme Court decisions protecting families and children.7Matt Bowman, “How the Biden Administration Is Using Regulations to Erode Religious Freedom,” Alliance Defending Freedom, March 13, 2023,

In several states, government officials have also tried to shut down Christian adoption and foster-care providers who want to place children with a married mother and father.8“What You Need to Know About the Supreme Court’s Foster Care Case,” Alliance Defending Freedom, July 11, 2022. And other states have denied Christian parents the opportunity to provide vulnerable children with a loving home, simply because agency officials object to the parents’ religious beliefs.

Other youth are being denied not only fair competition but physical safety as young women and girls are facing males in their sports—costing these female athletes competitions, titles, and potential scholarships. Schools like Mid-Vermont Christian School9Ryan Gaydos, “Vermont Christian school barred from future tournaments after forfeiting game against team with trans student,” Fox News, March 14, 2023, that refuse to embrace gender ideology or the risks to their female athletes10Maureen Collins, “Why Male Athletes Who Identify as Transgender Should Not Compete in Women’s Sports,” Alliance Defending Freedom, March 10, 2023, are being entirely excluded11Jesse O’Neill, “Girls basketball team banned from competing after forfeiting to team with trans player,” New York Post, March 14, 2023, from state athletic competition.

Increasingly, our government is moving to compel women to share private facilities like restrooms, locker rooms, and dorm bedrooms with males.12Matt Bowman, “How the Biden Administration Is Using Regulations to Erode Religious Freedom.” Other federal agencies have gone so far as to require employers to pay for—and religious healthcare providers to perform—life-altering surgeries for patients tragically convinced they can change their sex.13“Federal Agencies Redefining Sex for Employers,” Alliance Defending Freedom, February 8, 2023,”

Meanwhile, a new law threatens to strip custody from caring parents if, without their approval, their child travels or is taken to California for experimental “gender transition” drugs and irreversible surgeries that can have lifelong consequences.14 Matt Sharp, “California Thinks It Can Raise Your Kids Better Than You Can,” Alliance Defending Freedom, September 8, 2022,

Government intrusions are endangering children’s minds, as well as their bodies. In many parts of the country, federal, state, and local authorities are actively working to curb parental rights and a biblical view of gender and sexuality.

Last year, a determined effort by some Virginia public school administrators regarding gender ideology drew national attention.15Tyson Langhofer, “Cross v. Loudoun County School Board,” Alliance Defending Freedom, March 16, 2023, Their policies compelled teachers to affirm and support ideas contrary to their deeply held moral, philosophical, and religious beliefs. That prompted a group of religiously diverse parents to challenge the discriminatory policies and radical indoctrination in court.

These are just some of the challenges now facing a growing number of Christian families—and those of other faiths—across our nation.

How Christians Can Respond

What can churches and organizations like the ERLC do?

Awareness: We can be aware—and make others aware—of what’s happening in the culture, the courts, and the political landscape. We can be more responsible citizens, doing the sometimes tedious homework of learning what candidates believe, what important legislation really means, what ideologies are gathering momentum, and then voting accordingly.

Support: We can make phone calls, send emails, write letters to the editor. We can actively and generously support the work of organizations like the ERLC, enabling them to more effectively advocate before government officials for the best interests of families.

Invest: We can invest more thoughtfully, patiently, and lovingly in the lives of our children—and our communities—

carefully deepening their understanding of what the Bible teaches, including how to effectively engage our cherished freedoms for the benefit of ourselves and others. 

Pray: Most of all, we can pray.

May God, in the words of a great old hymn,16 “God of Grace and Glory,” HymnTime, “grant us wisdom, grant us courage, for the living of these days,” as we continue to live as Southern Baptists blessed with a long history of commitment to religious freedom, as citizens offering those around us a testimony to the transcendent truth of Christ, and as parents and individuals seeking to sow the truth of God’s Word deep in the souls of the next generation.

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