117 episodes

Join John Stonestreet for a daily dose of sanity—applying a Christian worldview to culture, politics, movies, and more. And be a part of God's work restoring all things.

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    • Religion & Spirituality
    • 4.8 • 1.8K Ratings

Join John Stonestreet for a daily dose of sanity—applying a Christian worldview to culture, politics, movies, and more. And be a part of God's work restoring all things.

    Prudence, Temperance, and Society’s Call for Virtues with Sex

    Prudence, Temperance, and Society’s Call for Virtues with Sex

    A recent opinion column made quite a splash. In it, the author observed: 
    In every other situation common to the human experience—eating, drinking, exercise, even email—we have come to realize that limits produce healthier results. It’s unlikely that sex and relationships are exceptions to the rule. An unrestrained sexual culture hasn’t necessarily led to better sex for all or to better relationships. In many cases, it has inspired numbness, callousness, hurting others and being hurt. And rather than being titillating, sexual overload has become boring. 
    She writes: “Getting rid of the old rules and replacing them with the norm of consent was supposed to make us happy. Instead, many people today feel a bit … lost.”  
    If you were to guess who published those words, what would you say? A Christian media outlet like Breakpoint or First Things? A conservative column by Ryan Anderson or Mary Eberstadt at The Heritage Foundation or Daily Wire? What if I told you this was published in The New York Times?  
    The author is Christine Emba, and the opinion column was based on her recent book: Rethinking Sex, a Provocation. Making a case quite controversial for modern ears, Emba argues for a recovery of ethical norms around sex, something “mere consent” is unable to provide. 
    A Catholic, Emba is quick to clarify that she is not advocating for a return to “purity culture,” or what many view as the outdated, repressive ethics of orthodox Christianity. She also carefully avoids talking about LGBTQ relationships, which some see as a desire to avoid permanently offending her progressive audience. Even so, the case she does make is profoundly countercultural, and she’s making it to a culture that just might be ready to listen.  
    Our culture is, after all, showing signs of sexual exhaustion in the midst of all of its confusion. As one news outlet reported on Valentine’s day, “Americans [are] less likely to have sex, partner up and get married than ever.” A Pew survey found that nearly half of single adults have given up looking for a partner entirely. 
    Another Pew Research survey showed that 65% of single women have experienced some form of harassment on the dating scene. Porn-inspired violence is so mainstream, Emba writes, that even when women are surprised by inappropriate conduct, they often feel like they can’t back out, once consent has been given. One young Twitter user put it this way: “I don’t think older generations realize how terrifying dating is for the current generation.”  
    In other words, it’s time to admit that the idea that consent could adequately govern human sexuality has failed. Consent may be the barest of moral necessities, but it cannot govern something as powerful as sex, especially when sex has been untethered from its purpose, design, and any other moral restraint. So, Emba concludes: 
    [S]ome new understandings may be in order. Maybe even casual sex is significant, an act unlike any other. Maybe some porn-inspired practices—those that eroticize degradation, objectification, harm—shouldn’t be mainstreamed. Maybe we do have a duty to others, not just to our own desire. We need norms more robust than “anything between two consenting adults goes.” 
    Her analysis is correct, though missing a necessary component. To say that we need to recover sexual norms leads to an obvious question: Whose norms? And why? What can make certain norms normative?  
    The answer, of course, takes us beyond exploring various moral options. Any analysis of morality quickly becomes a question of teleology. Or, to paraphrase T.S. Eliot, we must know what something is for, before we can know what to do with it.  
    In its bid for unrestricted sexual freedom, late modernity lost any foundation of what sex is and is for. Now, even as the house crumbles, we’re busy throwing away every tool needed to build back a foundation.  
    Contrary to everything we’re taug

    • 4 min
    Religion, Not Gender, Best Predicts Views of Abortion

    Religion, Not Gender, Best Predicts Views of Abortion

    “Religion, not gender,” the Economist reports, “is the best predictor of views on abortion.” The editors continue: 
    Shocked by a draft Supreme Court opinion that would allow states to ban abortion…. some [activists] hope that women enraged by the loss of Roe v Wade will vote en masse for Democrats in November. 
    But, they argue, that hope is misplaced. Whereas the gap between men and women on abortion restrictions is just 6%, religion—combined with race—accounts for a 65% difference.  
    Among both men and women, for example, 92% of atheists favor pro-abortion policies. Likewise, according to Gallup, 75% of those who attend religious services weekly identify as “pro-life.”  
    In other words, abortion is not an issue of women against men.  It’s an issue of worldview. Women are, of course, most affected by issues surrounding pregnancy, but not always the way that we are led to believe. 
    The real question is what is the pre-born? Are they, abortion advocates suggest, just disposable tissue or “lives worth sacrificing?” Or are they, in the words of Scripture, “fearfully and wonderfully made” in the image of God? 

    • 1 min
    Russian Art after the Invasion of Ukraine

    Russian Art after the Invasion of Ukraine

    After the invasion of Ukraine, what should be done with Russian art?  
    According to Simon Morrison in a recent The Washington Post article, Vladimir Putin’s war against Ukraine has prompted a global push to disavow all things Russian:  
    Music providers like Sony are suspending their Russian operations. … The Royal Opera House in London scrapped a summer season featuring the Bolshoi Ballet. … The Cardiff Philharmonic in Wales pulled the 19th-century . . . composer Pyotr Tchaikovsky.  
    Some of these measures are warranted. For example, composer Valery Gergiev is an outspoken supporter of Putin, played victory concerts in Ossetia and Syria for Putin, and in 2014 publicly supported the occupation of Crimea. He was fired from his position as chief conductor of the Munich Philharmonic.  
    Other situations are less clear. As Morrison writes, 
    The Montreal Symphony Orchestra just postponed three shows by 20-year-old pianist Alexander Malofeev, despite the fact that he has stated publicly, “Every Russian will feel guilty for decades because of the terrible and bloody decision that none of us could influence and predict.” 
    It’s both true and unnerving that so many Russians support this rapacious war against their neighbor. Others have been taken in by Putin’s relentless campaign of misinformation about Ukraine and its leaders. At the same time, there are those who have done nothing wrong, some who are even leading the internal resistance. Like with economic sanctions, everyday Russians are being punished for the sins of their government. Though war makes such extreme measures necessary, they should never be employed thoughtlessly.  
    Canceling Russian artists is one thing. Canceling Russian art is another. Throughout its history, the country has produced some of the greatest composers, painters, and authors of all time—not to mention dissidents, prophets, and counter-revolutionaries.  
    Leo Tolstoy is a perfect example. A seasoned military veteran who became a devout Christian and pacifist, his work Sevastopol Sketches vividly describes the horror of war in an age prone to glamorize it. Rather than elevate a character or cause, Tolstoy closes with one of his most famous lines: “The hero of my tale, whom I love with all the strength of my soul, whom I have tried to set forth in all his beauty … is the truth.”  
    In War and Peace, Tolstoy elaborates on the idea of “greatness.” “When it is impossible to stretch the very elastic threads of historical ratiocination any farther,” he argues,  
    when actions are clearly contrary to all that humanity calls right or even just, the historians produce a saving conception of greatness... “Greatness,” it seems, excludes the standards of right and wrong.  
    Deeply convicted by Christ’s teachings, Tolstoy reflected, “There is no greatness where there is no simplicity, goodness, and truth.” 
    The fact that Tolstoy’s works even survived, despite decades of Soviet censorship, is itself an act of God. Tolstoy’s Christian themes were overt, and his contributions both to and from Russian culture undeniable. “Russian school children are introduced to their country’s literary canon as early as the fifth grade,” writes journalist Tim Brinkhof. Even Putin has listed Dostoyevsky and Tolstoy among his favorite authors.  
    Perhaps his hypocrisy is an open door. Russia’s great artists have long served as a kind of national conscience, a reminder of the immutable, God-given truths stamped on the heart of every person.  
    In the words of The Economist,  
    Shunning the country’s back catalogue means giving up a guide to the darkness, and out of it. Cancel Dostoyevsky … and you miss peerless insights into nihilism and violence. Blacklist Tchaikovsky—or Shostakovich—and you silence a beauty wrenched from the chokehold of repression. Turn away from Malevich’s paintings, and you forgo his urgent vision of a world cracke

    • 4 min
    Supporting Families with Gender Dysphoric Kids & Understanding Manhood and Womanhood - BreakPoint Q&A

    Supporting Families with Gender Dysphoric Kids & Understanding Manhood and Womanhood - BreakPoint Q&A

    John and Shane consider how to support families who have children wrestling with gender identity. A listener writes in asking for ideas, as some in his own family are navigating gender dysphoria.
    Then, Shane asks John for a way to think well on manhood and womanhood, noting the natural gender breaks with speakers like Jordan Peterson. 

    • 36 min
    Is the Future of Charitable Donation at Risk?

    Is the Future of Charitable Donation at Risk?

    Imagine if giving money in support of a group that protects religious liberty, crafts pro-life legislation, or teaches a biblical view of sexuality or marriage meant that your name and the amount of your contribution would be publicly available. Anyone, including anyone who hoped to intimidate, harass, or “out you” to your employer, would have access to that information.   
    Would you still give if giving exacted a social cost as well as a financial one? That’s the situation countless conservative and Christian donors could face. 
    An upstart group called “Unmasking Fidelity” is trying to expose conservative donors to harassment by demanding the nation’s largest grant-maker, Fidelity Charitable, publicly reveal contributions to ten key organizations. These include the Family Research Council, Turning Point USA, and Alliance Defending Freedom, which Unmasking Fidelity absurdly calls “white supremacist” and “fascist.” 
    The true agenda behind the name-calling is obvious. Some of these organizations have been thorns in the side of progressive policymakers and lawyers who wish to impose their views on all Americans. Alliance Defending Freedom, for example, has been responsible for several key religious freedom victories at the U.S. Supreme Court, including one last year that protected conservative donors in California from having their names and charitable contributions published. In Thomas More Law Center v. Bonta, lawyers with ADF successfully argued against a California law that effectively “doxxed” donors—exposing them to harassment and intimidation. 
    Having failed in court, progressive activists hare now directing their efforts to attacking their opponents’ funding, specifically any conservative and Christian donors who use Fidelity Financial to manage their nonprofit contributions. Unmasking Fidelity is demanding five years’ worth of receipts for all donations that have gone to ten charities whose views they don’t like. 
    If Fidelity agrees to these demands, any major donor who gives to these organizations, or any like them, ought to immediately move their charitable dollars. Thankfully, there are trustworthy homes for this money, including Waterstone, National Christian Foundation, and Signatry.  
    As ADF put it, Unmasking Fidelity “desires to punish [Fidelity] and their donors for supporting principles millions of Americans endorse—religious freedom, free speech, marriage and family, parental rights, and sanctity of life.” If Fidelity caves to these demands, other financial institutions would likely follow, and an ideological litmus test would be imposed on account holders and institutions. Conservative and Christian groups would be effectively blacklisted by predominant financial players which is precisely what these activists want. From there, they can target other financial institutions and services, such as credit card processing and banking. As ADF concludes, this is an effort to “circumvent the First Amendment” right after the Supreme Court ruled that nonprofit donations are free speech. 
    This is, of course, cancel culture at its worst. If it succeeds, our  radioactive political landscape would only become more toxic, and ordinary Americans will be increasingly afraid to contribute to or show public support for causes that would invite harassment or cost them their jobs. Our nation is divided enough, without every citizen who wants to make a charitable donation being effectively put on trial in the court of public opinion.  
     Fidelity Charitable needs to hear from its account holders and the public. As of this publication, more than 30,000 financial advisors, investment professionals, and nonprofit leaders have already signed a letter urging Fidelity Charitable’s leadership to reject the demands of progressive activists. Contact Fidelity Charitable directly and urge them to fight for the privacy and freedom of account holders, as well as for the good of

    • 4 min
    Don't Believe the Miscarriage Myth

    Don't Believe the Miscarriage Myth

    A bizarre talking point circulating in the wake of the Supreme Court leak in the Dobbs case is that if Roe v. Wade is overturned, women who suffer miscarriages could be criminally charged in states that restrict abortion.  The rumor apparently stems from a handful of stories involving women who’ve been charged for the death of their preborn babies after they used drugs or caused a car accident by driving under the influence. 
    These stories have nothing morally or medically in common with miscarriages, which are natural, albeit tragic occurrences. Abortions are needless, deliberate, violent, and dangerous for babies and women. Removing the body of a baby who has died from his mother’s womb is nothing like invading a healthy womb to dismember and kill a baby.  
    Propagating the miscarriage myth is nothing less than a ruthless political strategy aimed at keeping women terrified and distracted from the real issues at stake in abortion law.   
    Women deserve better than to be lied to. Christians need to tell the truth loud and clear.

    • 1 min

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