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Dobson decries moral decay in challenge to Southern Baptists

SALT LAKE CITY (BP)–James Dobson challenged Southern Baptists to continue to address society’s moral decay as they have in the stances taken this year and last.
A nearly full house at the Salt Palace Convention Center applauded enthusiastically and repeatedly as Dobson, founder and president of Focus on the Family, spoke during the closing session of the June 9-11 Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting in Salt Lake City.
“I have enormous respect for your movement and your love for the Lord,” said Dobson, a member of a Church of the Nazarene congregation in Colo. Springs, Colo. “Almost thou persuadest me to be a Southern Baptist.”
“Society has split now into two broad camps, in what I would call a civil war of values,” Dobson said after introductory humor. “The prevailing world view: God is. The opposing view: God isn’t.
“If God is, it changes everything. That’s why we believe in the sanctity of life, in the dangers of premarital sex, in sexual loyalty and fidelty, the Ten Commandments, honesty and integrity. There’s this whole understanding that influences behavior that comes from that idea that God is, that he exists and his Word is true.”
On the other hand, those who believe “God isn’t” make up their own rules, Dobson said. If something is inconvenient, it’s gotten rid of — including babies and the elderly. If God doesn’t exist, everyone is free to do with life as they wish, including determining that homosexuality is no different, morally, than heterosexuality.
“These two world views are in collision,” Dobson said. “Values are upside down. It is still a $25,000 fine to kill an eagle’s egg and it’s not even a misdemeanor … to abort a baby. It’s not the equavalent of a parking ticket to do that to a viable healty baby. … They call it partial-birth abortion. That’s not what it is. It’s murder during delievery.”
The next generation, Dobson said, is his greatest concern.
“My heart aches for what we’re doing to kids,” he said. “They’ve been given no understanding there is a boss of the universe who lays down right and wrong, and we’re obligated to follow it. We’ve deprived these kids of any understanding of right and wrong, and then we have absolutely saturated them in violence on television and in the movies and on the Internet and in their video games.
“Most of their video games involve killing and shooting and knifing and blood spurting,” Dobson continued. “I don’t know if you’ve looked at this stuff. It’s an $8 billion industry, growing 20-30 percent a year. This is what our kids are growing up with.”
He railed about Internet pornography, the hard-core pornography industry, gambling, sexual immorality and the health concerns related to it, children born out of wedlock and teens with guns.
“We are a sick nation,” Dobson said. “We’re suffering from the disease of sin.”
The audience broke into sustained applause.
He told the story of David and Bathsheba as written in 2 Samuel.
“The great patriarch David is now guilty of adultery and murder and he had it all nicely covered up,” Dobson recounted. “Who’s going to challenge the authority of the king, even if they knew? But the Lord knew it and he saw it and he talked to Nathan the prophet and Nathan came to see the president, the president — hahaha — came to see the king.” His words were broken by the congregation’s supportive laughter followed by applause.
“That was a genuine Freudian slip, but it’s valid,” Dobson said to more laughter and applause. “Nathan said, ‘Thou art the man.'”
There are two dimensions to the message the church brings to a wicked, dying world, Dobson said: the need for an emphasis on evangelism and the need to adhere to biblical principles and practices.
“Some of what is in this Book is not seeker-friendly,” he said to enthusiastic applause. “It is confrontational.” More applause. “I cannot tell you all how strongly I feel about this, especially the message of sin. You cannot understand what Christ did for us if you don’t have a doctrirne of sin. If you don’t understand sin, you don’t understand the cure.”
The second responssibility of the church is to continue to be salt and light in the culture, Dobson said. He urged churches and Christians to use their American right to influence governmental actions.
“Folks, it is not political to kill babies,” he said. “It is immoral to kill babies.”
He turned to the issue of sexual purity.
“I appreciate so much today your resolution with regard to the issue of homosexuality,” Dobson said, referring to a resolution opposing a recent executive order by President Clinton extending homosexual rights to federal civilian employees.
“We simply must make a stand,” Dobson said. “On this issue we will be villified and we will be marginalized and we will be insulted and we will be hurt, because it hurts to have the popular culture call us names, but we answer to a higher authority.”
Dobson concluded his remarks by affirming Southern Baptists for the stands taken during their 1997 and 1998 annual meetings.
“Let me just say how much I appreciate Southern Baptists and what you stand for,” he said. “Thank you. Thank you for taking a position against the Disney Corp. last year.
“The movie ‘Scream2,’ which I have not seen but which was enormously popular with kids, began with a killing of a young girl and the gutting of that child, and all her entrails pulled out and left hanging upside down for her mother to find. That’s how that movie started. People who do that do not deserve our patronage and I thank you for that.,” Dobson said, sparking more applause.
“Thank you this week for your definition of the family,” Dobson continued, referring to SBC action to add an article on the family to the convention’s Baptist Faith and Message confessional statement. “I can’t tell you how I appreciate your courage in simply taking the Scripture at face value. If it says it, we believe it. This is what it says,” he said, to more applause.
“And as long as I’ve waded into controversy, thank you last year for rejecting the gender-neutral Bible. I am grateful to you for that,” Dobson said, referring to controversy over plans, now scrapped, to revise the New International Version Bible translation with gender-neutral wording. More applause.
“One of the most important scriptures to me in the Bible is Deut 30:19,” Dobson said. “This sums up how I see the world and what we are to do … ‘Now choose life so that you and your children may live,'” he said as he walked away from the podium, receiving at least one minute of impassioned applause.

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  • Karen L.Willoughby