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This week’s Orange Bowl and Rose Bowl, and for that matter the Sugar Bowl, all show-cased some of the very best drama in top level intercollegiate football. Pageantry, competitiveness, excellence, achievement, the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat. It was all there for anyone who cared to tune in.

Unless you’re from West Virginia, you probably don’t know much about the state or even where it is. My wife is from West Virginia, so over the years we’ve actually heard otherwise well-educated people ask if she knows this or that person “in Richmond.” We’ve also endured people who seriously seem to think that all West Virginians walk around barefoot, drink moonshine, and don’t know what a library is. So, yes, we rooted for West Virginia University in the Nokia Sugar Bowl, and yes, we were happy when WVU beat Georgia 38-35. This is a big win for WVU—for the football program, for the conference, for the school, and probably for the state.

It’s genuinely too bad the people of WV could not celebrate the victory for long, for it was understandably replaced on the front pages by the tragic loss of 12 out of 13 miners at the Sago Mine near Tallmansville, West Virginia. That sad story, compounded by confusing misinformation in the midst of rescue attempts, has placed West Virginia squarely in the nation’s focus for the past several days. Mining is still the lifeblood of the state’s economy, so this accident and loss of life strikes home for nearly everyone in this state that Governor Joe Manchin called, “a tough little state with good and tough people.”

Back to football, watching 79 year old Coach Joe Paterno of the Penn State University Nittany Lions defeat 76 year old Coach Bobby Bowden of the Florida State University Seminoles in three overtimes, 26-23, in the Fedex Orange Bowl was priceless. If that wasn’t enough, the next night the University of Texas Longhorns upset the two time national champion, 34 game-win-streak, University of Southern California Trojans, 41-38, in the Rose Bowl. Celebrities, Heisman trophy winners, pageantry, Keith Jackson probably doing his last bowl game, great weather, fans and fanatics, you name it, this game had it.

I’m waxing eloquent, or at least waxing, on all this because I think it is an incredible example of the beauty and sheer enjoyment afforded competitive athletics—free of steroids and other substances, point shaving and gambling, and other forms of cheating. Athletics at its best is an opportunity for men and women to perfect and demonstrate exceptional talent, skills, and execution. At its best, athletics is as much about “heart,” goals, striving, and achievement, as it is about physical talents. Athletics at its best is part of the best in the human story.

I was never a great or even a very good athlete. But I am at times a good maybe even a great fan. Three cheers for all that’s compelling about athletics at its pinnacle.

By the way, we did not go to the game, but we were in Pasadena for the Rose Parade—the first parade in the rain since 1955—not just rain, pouring rain. It was wet, cool, still beautiful and amazing, and fun.


© Rex M. Rogers - All Rights Reserved, 2006

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact Dr. Rogers or read more commentary on current issues and events at or follow him at

The transition in focus and tone from Christmas to New Years never fails to startle and bother me. For at least a month, maybe two months, leading to Christmas, people’s thoughts focus on gifts for friends and loved ones, re-connecting with people we haven’t seen for awhile, and the warmth, joy, and sheer wonder of Christmas time. This is true even for non-religious people. For those of us who believe the babe in the manger became our risen Savior, it is an even more joyous time. It’s the spirit of Christmas that Charles Dickens’ immortal character, Ebenezer Scrooge, learned about in time to make a difference in his life and the lives of others.

Then it happens. Christmas is over. Boom. Just like that the spirit of Christmas is set aside in a mad rush to see how many spirits one can drink and still stand up. Don’t get me wrong. I like New Years. I like resolutions, football games, parades, and more family, friends, food, and fellowship. I don’t like the New Year’s Day television focus on current celebrities, canned conversation, and cheap cognac. After the eternal verities and moving traditions of Christmas, New Years all seems so shallow. Because for the most part, it is—at least “as portrayed on TV” or at your local New Years Eve party.

I have found a few antidotes. I watch the news, old movies, parades, and football games and otherwise, I leave the television off. Reading the books I got for Christmas, visiting with house guests or being a guest at someone else’s house, writing, or catching up on some project around the house is far more rewarding.

On Christmas Eve in our home we read the Christmas story from Luke 2 and Matthew 2, in that order. On New Years Eve or New Years Day, we sometimes share “New Years Resolutions.” I like the idea of resolutions. It’s an opportunity to set new goals, establish new directions, or reinforce old but important values in our lives. It’s a chance to commune with the Lord and discern what his Spirit might want us to do differently so that we may better serve him.

Resolutions are a healthy exercise, especially if one of your resolutions is to commit yourself to more healthy exercise. Establishing New Years Resolutions is healthy because it’s forward-looking, it’s an act of hope and promise, it’s an expressed desire to achieve more, contribute more, be a better person, or be what your potential suggests you can be. Setting resolutions is a creative act that I think mirrors our divine creation and our Creator. Establishing New Years Resolutions can be, or at least should be, about becoming more of what God intended us to be.

So I suggest to you that you join me this New Years in focusing upon the Spirit rather than spirits and in extending the Christmas spirit into 2006. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.


© Rex M. Rogers - All Rights Reserved, 2005

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On November 2, 2005, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals handed down a sex education decision in Fields v. Palmdale School District so sweeping in its breadth and so threatening to parental rights as to take your breath away.

The case is rooted in a Palmdale School District (California) survey of first, third, and fifth graders, ostensibly to evaluate psychological barriers to learning. A parental consent letter was sent home, but it did not mention that sex would be a survey topic. In the survey, children were asked about, for example, “touching my private parts too much,” “touching other people’s private parts,” having sex feelings in my body,” “thinking about sex when I don’t want to,” and more. Parents understandably reacted negatively to this intrusion and sued the school district.

The Ninth Circuit Court decision said that “once parents make the choice as to which school their children will attend, their fundamental right to control the education of their children is, at the least, substantially diminished.” In other words, parental rights regarding their children’s education “does not extend beyond the threshold of the school door.” The court concluded with “In summary, we hold that there is no free-standing fundamental right of parents’ to control the upbringing of their children by introducing them to matters of and relating to sex in accordance with their personal religious values and beliefs and that the inserted right is not encompassed by any other fundamental right. In doing so, we do not quarrel with the parents’ right to inform and advise their children about the subject of sex as they see fit. We conclude only that the parents are possessed of no constitutional right to prevent the public schools from providing information on that subject to their students in any forum or manner they select.” (Italics mine.)

According to this ruling, written for a three judge panel by Judge Stephen Reinhardt, one of the most liberal and activist judges in the country—and one of the most overturned judges in U.S. judicial history—parents possess no fundamental right to direct their children’s sex education. They may “inform” and “advise,” but they cannot exercise any of this parental oversight inside the walls of the public school. Even the House of Representatives in the nation’s Congress recognized the outrageousness of this position by passing House Resolution 547 the week of November 14, 2005, in which the House expressed its recommendation that the Ninth Circuit rehear the case. Likely this case will be appealed to the United States Supreme Court, but there is no guarantee the high court will hear the case.

The implications of this ruling, should it be regarded as a precedent, go far beyond sex education. In the Ninth Circuit’s view, parents have no right to protest anything in the public school curriculum. It may take a village to raise a child in some peoples’ view, but this case puts the responsibility firmly in the government’s court (sad pun intended). So it’s not parents but judicial philosopher-kings or other designated professionals who determine what’s best and when it’s best for our children.

As I mentioned in yesterday’s blog on sex education, parents should be their children’s primary if not sole sex information providers. This is a right, responsibility, and privilege of parenthood. Public schools should not be involved in sex education, primarily because they are not able to ground sex education in values leading to a moral consensus on sexual matters. Without clearly stated values, sex education devolves to sex information or sex orientation or sex introduction, or worse, sex promotion.

Let’s hope the United States Supreme Court not only agrees to hear this case but in due course overturns it. The high court will find ample legal precedent, as well as social, religious, and moral common sense, to buttress rationale for regarding parents as the fundamental caregivers, nurturers, and guardians of their children’s development, including their sexual understanding.

Beyond obvious concern for parental rights this case certainly reminds us why activist judges working with a liberal and/or a morally relativistic mindset must be replaced by judges who respect moral values and the law. This is another reason why who we elect to the United States presidency is so important and far reaching.


© Rex M. Rogers - All Rights Reserved, 2005

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact Dr. Rogers, President or read more commentary on current issues and events at or follow him at

I learned about “the birds and the bees” while sitting in a barber chair. My father was a barber, so he knew that he had me pretty well trapped for however long it took to cut my hair or cover his topic, whichever came first.

My Christian father’s other favorite technique was to drive around to who knows where with me trapped next to him on the other side of the front seat. So sex education in my day was not a matter of what program might be in vogue in the local public school. It was a matter of Dad-picks-time-and-place, Dad-tells-son-what-son-needs-to-know, and Son-learns-from-Dad. That’s it. No curriculum—other than the Bible. No Parent Teacher Organization. No trained sex educators. And you better believe this: No recommended methods to assure “safe sex.” It was abstinence-only. Period.

So I wonder about programs like Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm’s “Talk Early & Talk Often,” initiated at the beginning of this school year. While TETO strives to encourage parents to talk with their children about sex before the kids learn from culture and media, I’m more skeptical than hopeful. The record of “sex education” programs, other than a few that are truly abstinence-only in their approach, is not all that promising. Many sex education programs do more to promote adolescent sex than prevent it. They do more to advance “alternative lifestyles” than to advance personal responsibility, and they more often suggest a “safe sex” approach than an “abstinence” approach to adolescent sexuality.

I’m glad TETO aims at parents, trying to assist them in acting as the primary sex educators of their children. They should be. But any government sponsored program, particularly in today’s politically charged and politically correct environment, will necessarily be devoid of any sound moral foundation. In other words, to be acceptable, these programs will have to avoid talking about real morality, right and wrong. Evidence for this can be found in one of TETO’s tips for parents: “Try not to be judgmental.” This may mean, “Don’t frown upon kids’ questions.” But it may mean, “Don’t tell kids what’s wrong with sex outside of a heterosexual, monogamous, lifelong marriage.” Or “Don’t tell kids they’re wrong for engaging in sexual relationships.”

For sex education to be effective—that is, for sex education to amount to more than the sharing of new knowledge about sex—sex education programs must also discuss values. If the end result of sex education is supposed to be fewer teen pregnancies, fewer abortions, fewer too-early-too-stressed-then-broken-marriages, fewer STDs contracted, fewer individuals forced into early sexual experiences against their will, or fewer abandoned babies, than what’s “right” and what’s “wrong” must be identified, considered, and hopefully understood and embraced by students in the sex education classroom. Sex education without values is no education at all. It’s just sex facts.

Most public school personnel involved in sex education programs are likely operating with the very best of motives and the highest standards of professionalism. I am not criticizing them. Rather I salute them. In this time and culture their task is truly over-stressed and generally under-valued. But public schools by definition are ill-equipped to provide moral instruction. In many cases they are not even allowed to provide moral instruction—at least clearly religiously based moral instruction. That’s why I believe public schools should concentrate their tight budgets and teaching assets on academic achievement, not sexual enlightenment.

I think parents, families, pastors, and churches should be teaching young people about what God says about human sexuality—that he created it, why he created it, how and when we may express it, and that we are accountable to him for all of it. Because many fathers and mothers abdicate their parental responsibilities is not cause for transferring that responsibility to public schools. Aimed at parents as it is, TETO may help, but I still don’t think it’s the answer.

Parents need to talk early and talk often to their children about sex. This I affirm. But I think these talks will be more effective if administered privately, individually, lovingly, knowledgeably, and frequently by present, involved, parents—not a school program. For children without present, caring parents, the local church should step in with knowledge and values, not the local school. I know this is not easy, but I believe it is right.

Dad didn’t have a degree in sex education. But his Christian commitment and biblical understanding, his upbringing on his family’s farm, his status as a happily married man, and his maturity qualified him to speak with authority. I was the beneficiary. I was given both facts and, more importantly, the values to interpret them.


© Rex M. Rogers - All Rights Reserved, 2005

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact Dr. Rogers or read more commentary on current issues and events at or follow him at

Christian pollster George Barna says, “Local churches have virtually no influence in our culture.” When I first read this statement it stopped me cold, right in my tracks, a total focus while I tried to get my mind around the implications of what Barna was saying. Could this possibly be true? And if it is, what does it mean? If churches are no longer influencing culture, what is?

In his new book entitled Revolution (Tyndale, 2005), George Barna describes seven dominant spheres of cultural influence: movies, music, television, books, Internet, the law, and family. Then he says culture is also subject to several second tier influencers: schools, peers, newspapers, radio, and businesses. You’ll notice that the church is not listed.

According to Barna, in year 2000, 70% of American adults interested in faith matters looked to the local church for information. By year 2005, this number dropped to 30-35%. In 2000, alternative faith-based communities provided faith information to about 5% of the population, while five years later this number jumped to 30-35%. Meanwhile, in 2000, 20% of American adults turned to media, the arts, and culture for information about faith, while in 2005, the number of adults seeking faith information in media, the arts, and culture increased to 30-35%.

In other words, in the new millennium, the church is rapidly losing its once powerful influence upon culture, while corresponding increases are taking place in alternative faith-based communities and media, arts, and culture. People are beginning to look outside rather than inside the church for cues on how to live out their faith in everyday life.

These statistics evidence a rather astounding shift in American worship patterns, credibility and authority imputed to institutional religion, and willingness to seek faith information in a variety of new media sources. If you acknowledge the reality and significance of these trends, it suggests at least these considerations for the local church:

-- the church needs to engage the culture not run from it,

--the church needs to learn more about current culture, including values, worldviews, and trends,

--the church needs to learn how to communicate within current culture—in other words, learn how to share “the old, old story” in perhaps “new, new ways,”

--the church should work to equip Christian people with the ability to lead and transform current culture, not just follow it,

--the church needs to learn new media, drama, the arts, video and audio, computer gaming, the Internet, and more for God’s glory,

--the church needs to learn to share its methods with and through excellence or excellent techniques (methods), because fervent piety without excellence is no longer effective.

I am not for a minute suggesting the Church should change, dilute, or hide, its biblical message. I’m not saying all churches need to be the same, be progressive and “non-traditional,” be “hip,” or in any other way simply forget generations who continue to learn in established forms. These generations still need access to established forms of worship, so that these people may continue to learn, grow, and serve the Lord.

I am saying that if the Church or local churches ignore cultural trends, Barna’s statement will be realized. If you do not believe this, look at European countries where churches have been silent, culturally irrelevant, or non-existent for years.

I think Barna’s statement is downright scary. I don’t think I want to live in a culture where the biblical church has no influence on culture. That’s one reason I work in a Christian university, in part because I think the rationale for Christian higher education is stronger than ever. Christian universities like Cornerstone University graduate men and women whose biblical worldview has been developed and sharpened, who have been given an excellent preparation in their field of interest, who understand the culture in which we live, and who wish to influence that culture for the cause of Christ.

We need not be afraid, because God is Sovereign over change as well as history and tradition. But we do need to be active, even proactive. We need to live out our faith. We need to help and to lead our churches toward greater cultural impact.


© Rex M. Rogers - All Rights Reserved, 2005

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I wore a Santa Claus suit to a university department Christmas party this week. It occurred to me that this is something I wouldn’t have done a decade or more ago. In fact, during my early days at the university I had a beautifully tailored Santa Claus suit and gave it away.

It’s not that my Santa Claus suit collided with my convictions. It’s just that I didn’t want to run the risk of offending anyone who didn’t like the idea of Santa Claus. And back then, our transformation from a more rules-oriented denominational college to an emerging, biblical worldview-based Christian university had just begun. People were more sensitive then to what we sometimes call “externals,” the dos and don’ts of Christian faith.

Wearing a Santa Claus suit today is not a signal that I don’t care anymore about what people think. Rather, I made the decision to wear the suit because a staff member with a great sense of humor—Vicki Pratt—asked me to wear it just for fun, so I did. And it was a lot of fun.

I respect people whose convictions lead them to reject “playing Santa Claus” with their children or grandchildren. If their decision does not in itself violate the moral will of God, and this one clearly does not, than they are certainly free to enjoy a Santa-Claus-free Christmas. More power to them. They simply need to avoid the temptation to judge others who disagree with them.

I respect people whose convictions allow them to be at ease with the Santa Claus fantasy. If their decision does not in itself violate the moral will of God, and I see no scriptural indication that it does, than they are free to enjoy the harmless silliness of Santa Claus. More power to them. They simply need to avoid the temptation of ridiculing others who disagree with them.

Coming to terms with Santa Claus is a Christian liberty issue. On Santa Claus, God never says “thou shalt” or “thou shalt not.” Christian liberty means we’re both free to make and responsible for making our own decisions based upon God’s revealed moral will in the Bible.

God does give us principles to apply. He does say that the name of Jesus Christ is above every name. He says that Jesus Christ is the awaited Immanuel, the Messiah, the Savior. He does say that none other than Jesus Christ must be worshipped and exalted. He does say in different words, that Jesus, born in manger, is the “reason for the season.” According to the Word of God, you can’t take Christ out of Christmas and you can’t put him back, because no matter what a given culture says or does, without him there is no Christmas.

So is it possible temporarily to “displace” Christ with some overzealous, foolish, ignorant, or intentionally secularist emphasis upon Santa Claus? Of course. If this happens we need to understand it and respond winsomely. But is this what most people are thinking when they “play Santa Claus” with their children, grandchildren, or friends. I don’t think so. For most I think its light-hearted fantasy coming to us as harmless tradition, and Christians who noisily attack this don’t accomplish much other than making themselves look overzealous, foolish, ignorant, or over the top.

That’s why I wore a Santa Claus suit today. I respect people who don’t embrace the idea, and I would never intentionally offend them. But I disagree with people who go over the top with name-calling like “Satan Claus” or who question the spiritual integrity of people who are having a little seasonal fun.

In the face of intractable problems plaguing our world it seems to me that wearing a Santa Claus suit for a couple of hours is pretty tame stuff.


© Rex M. Rogers - All Rights Reserved, 2005

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact Dr. Rogers or read more commentary on current issues and events at or follow him at