2015 marked another year filled with important news stories for Christians to think through, some of which having wide ranging future implications yet to be seen.
For the sake of faithfully engaging Scripture and filtering events through a biblical worldview, I have curated a list of important news stories from 2015, sharing of their importance and implications for believers. I have also linked to helpful articles to deepen your understanding.
This randomly-ordered list will come from an American perspective because, well, I am American. International friends—feel free to chime in on social media or in the comments section with important news stories from your part of the world.
And sorry for those of you wanting a Tim Tebow story or the Starbucks Red Christmas cups—they didn’t make the list ;).
1. The U.S. Supreme Court legalizes same-sex marriage in the Obergefell decision.
On June 26, 2015 same-sex marriage became the law of the land in the United States. The decision passed in the U.S. Supreme Court by one vote (a 5-4 decision) and has tremendous implications for the church—most of which have yet to be seen. While champions of same-sex marriage call this a victory for human rights, those holding to the truth of Scripture see it as legalizing a sinful activity and moving society further away from biblical truth that will hinder the flourishing of families and society as a whole (see Romans 1).
- Kevin DeYoung: 40 Questions for Christians Now Waving Rainbow Flags
- 50 Resources for Equipping the Church on Homosexuality and Same-Sex Marriage
- 4 Ways Christians Need to Respond in Love to the Supreme Court Decision on Same-Sex Marriage
2. The Kim Davis controversy calls the future of religious liberty in the U.S. to question.
June 29, 2015, just three days after the Obergefell decision, Kim Davis, a county clerk in Kentucky, refused to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples (or any couples) because it conflicts with her religious beliefs. A court battle ensued, and Davis spent five days in prison from September 3—September 8. She has since been released and returned to work with a deputy signing the marriage licenses instead of her. Her case shows the difficulty of maintaining religious liberty when erotic liberty is on the rise, and causes many religious people to wonder what future rights may be stripped from them.
- Why Kim Davis Was Right Not to Resign by Joe Carter
- “In this World You Will Have Trouble” — Welcome to Rowan County by Albert Mohler
3. Hidden-camera videos expose evils of Planned Parenthood.
On July 14, The Center for Medical Progress began releasing hidden-camera videos revealing the outrageously disgusting practices of Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest abortion provider. These dozen-or-so videos have reignited the abortion debate and have given momentum to the pro-life movement by proving that Planned Parenthood sells baby parts for profit and harvests organs without consent of the mother, among a laundry list of grizzly sins.
Unfortunately, instead of the pro-choice community repenting and seeking reform to the abortion industry, many take cheap shots at the videos saying they are “heavily edited” (even though full versions were released) and that nothing Planned Parenthood does is illegal. Another disappointment is what hasn’t happened—a federal defunding of Planned Parenthood.
Pray that the pro-life movement would continue to pick up steam and that our politicians would have the courage to fight for what’s right even if it may be politically inconvenient. Pray to defund this evil organization and for laws that will protect the life of the unborn. Pray that many abortion workers and activists would come to repentance and faith in Jesus Christ like Abby Johnson did.
- Molly Hemmingway shares a helpful rundown of the videos at The Federalist: A Quick and Easy Guide to the Planned Parenthood Videos
4. The Islamic State (ISIS) continues to spread terror around the world.
While ISIS carried out several attacks around the world this year, the two most notable events include the beheading of 21 Egyptian Christians in February and November 13’s terror attacks in Paris that killed 130. December 2nd’s shooting in San Bernardino, California claimed fourteen lives and is tied to ISIS—by Tashfeen Malik’s Facebook page (she was the woman shooter). One of ISIS’s main recruiting strategy is through social media, and it is working to enlist. Some young people from western culture have adopted the evil ideologies and practices of ISIS, and several have been arrested in route to the middle east to receive training from ISIS.
While most of the news reported regarding ISIS is tragic, we can thank God and the efforts of law enforcement for many successes in fighting against ISIS and ISIS-inspired attacks. These victories, like the January 14 arrest of a man from Ohio trying to attack the US Capitol, do not receive much attention in the national news.
- What ISIS Really Wants (A long-form article on The Atlantic worth reading)
- A Powerful Sermon on Overcoming Fear of Terrorism (Colin Smith)
5. The Syrian Refugee Crisis leaves more than four million refugees searching for a home.
The Syrian Civil War has forced more than four million Syrians to neighboring countries, Europe, and now all over the world, including North America. Perhaps nothing captures this tragedy better than the photo of a dead young boy named Aylan Al-Kurdi who washed up on shore in Turkey. Apparently a boat of refugees escaping Syria capsized, killing those aboard, and this young boy was only one of the victims.
This crisis has brought mixed responses from politicians—some desiring to reach out in love to needy people forced from their home, while others fear welcoming refugees would essentially lay out the welcome map for more ISIS-inspired terrorists to enter into our communities.
[pullquote]World Vision calls the Syrian refugee crisis “The Worst Humanitarian Crisis in the World Today.”[/pullquote]
- Learn more about the crisis or help some refugees at World Vision’s website.
- Stop Pitting Security and Compassion Against Each Other in the Syrian Refugee Crisis by Russell Moore
6. The 2016 Presidential race heats up and carries huge implications for the future of our country.
It seems like people say every four years that this presidential election is the most important election in U.S. history. That will be said again this time around—and for good reason. Most Americans disapprove of the direction the country is going (60% in fact). But there are radically different opinions of what we need to get back on track.
Candidates for president feature an interesting cast of characters including a former first lady (Hillary Clinton), a socialist (Bernie Sanders), a business tycoon that inspired the look for Biff Tannen in Back to the Future 2 (Donald Trump), and a couple of Cuban-Americans, just to name a few.
Why is this election so important? There are many reasons (just read this whole article). One important reason is that the next president will be able to appoint new Supreme Court justices. This summer’s passage of same-sex marriage only passed by ONE VOTE. One unelected judge, appointed by the president, decided an issue of tremendous importance for an entire nation of more than 300 million. Future issues relating to abortion, religious freedom, the size and power of government, and more might come down to one vote again in the future. Wouldn’t it be nice for them to share core biblical values?
- Instead of sharing an informative article on an topic that changes almost daily, here’s some encouragement we all need: Fearful About Who Might Be Our Next President? Don’t Forget Who is In Control (Mark Altrogge)
7. Racial tension in the United States continues, increasing distrust of police.
Much of this tension flows 2013’s shooting of Trayvon Martin and 2014’s shooting of an unarmed black teenager named Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO. In March of 2015, the white police officer who killed Michael Brown was cleared of any criminal wrongdoing, prompting even more protesting and violence in Ferguson than originally erupted in 2014. In April, outrage came at a similar event that happened in Baltimore, MD with the arrest and death of Freddie Gray. Incidents like these and the Laquan McDonald shooting in Chicago have caused many, especially the black community, to mistrust police officers.
As Christians, we need to remember that the police are used by God to establish order, but also that every human—including police officers—is a sinner. We need to pray for reconciliation and that people would come to know the One who is the only true solution. We need to pray for our police officers to administer justice fairly, to serve and protect faithfully and safely.
8. Bruce Jenner becomes Caitlyn Jenner, further accelerating the transgender revolution.
When I first saw Caitlyn Jenner trending on Twitter this April, I thought one of the Kardashian sisters did something stupid in public. Then I realized that the step-father of the Kardashians and Olympic gold-medal winner Bruce Jenner came out as a “woman” and desired a gender change. Caitlyn Jenner revealed his identity as a trans-woman in April of 2015 seemed to be embraced with open arms from all of the major media outlets. The media praised him (or her?) for his courage and how he paved the way for more conversations and legislations regarding transgender rights.
In Palatine, IL (just a few miles from where I live), a teenage male who identifies as female took his school to court for not giving him unrestricted access to the girls locker room. This of course is the last thing most fathers of a high school girls want—an biological male dressing and undressing next to his daughter at school.
The city of Houston recently voted to reject an Equal Rights Ordinance that would have banned discrimination of any kind against transgendered people (and several other categories). A major source of tension was the bathroom issue: would it not be legal for men to enter women’s restrooms, and vice versa?
How should Christians respond? We should mourn that in this fallen world many don’t feel comfortable in their skin and long for a true identity. We should show Christ-like compassion to such individuals, speak the truth in love, and pray. And we can’t just focus on the negative, we must celebrate the amazingly good design of God in creation.
- Jon Bloom: How Should We Respond to Caitlyn Jenner?
- Free eBook: Good The Joy of Christian Manhood and Womanhood
- The Logical Flaw at the Heart of Many Transgender Arguments
9. US increases tension with Russia amid Ukrainian crisis and other events.
The US is not happy with Russia having invaded Ukraine and sending thousands of troops across the border. The US government imposed sanctions against trade with Russia, actions which is described by some as “economic warfare.” While this hasn’t been a major focus of major news outlets of late, tensions with Russia under President Vladimir Putin have brought some to label this tension “Cold War II.”
I’ll be honest and admit this story is something I don’t know as much about compared to others on this list, but I do know this rift between two major superpowers isn’t good news. Some point to it as the beginnings of World War III, two major end times countries aligning themselves for the Armageddon, or other doomsday projections.
What do I think? I have no idea! The last thing I want to do is instill fear in anyone. To paraphrase what Janet Parshall says often on her show: what interesting times we live in! How beautiful that we can trust in God as these events of history unfold! And how beautiful that, “neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39).
Which leads us to the last and most important news story imaginable:
10. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.
I’m pretty sure I’m not the first to end a list this way, but we must never forget the best news imaginable: that God sent Jesus Christ into the world to save sinners and that His grace is available to all who come to Him in faith and repentance.
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.
“The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.”
2015’s major news stories are further proof that we live in a sin-ravaged world. Our world is longing for truth, longing for purpose, and longing for peace—all of which only come in Jesus Christ.
As you think through news stories from the past year, the upcoming year, and the future, don’t let your heart turn to despair—make your cry the words of Jeremiah in Lamentations 3:24, “The Lord is my portion, therefore I will hope in him!”
Come quickly Lord Jesus!