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Transgender man gives birth to child

Andrew Matthews via APA transgender man has given birth after conceiving a child with his transgender wife. Fernando Machado was born a female; his partner Diane Rodriguez was born a male. Neither has completed sex reassignment surgery. As a result, the transgender man was impregnated by his transgender wife and bore a child.

Gender identity issues are increasingly in the news these days. The Wall Street Journal reports that sex reassignment surgery is becoming more common as a growing number of hospitals offer the procedure and insurance companies provide coverage. And efforts are underway to encourage more children to question their gender identity.

For instance, Washington State public school curriculum will begin teaching kindergarteners to "understand there are many ways to express gender." By grade five, students will be taught to "identify trusted adults to ask questions about gender identity and sexual orientation." We are likely to see more such initiatives: The Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network received a $1.425 million grant from the Centers for Disease Control in 2011 to promote the LGBT agenda in public schools at taxpayers' expense.

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What would God say about last night's debate?

Credit: David Goldman via APThere's much debate this morning over the results of last night's presidential debate. Since undecided voters will likely decide the race, today's Wall Street Journal is focusing especially on their response. And CNN is fact-checking the debate and discussing its implications for the race.

My question is different: How does God view the debate and what it says about America? I think he would respond in at least two ways.

One: He is grieved by the divisiveness of our culture.

Today's New York Times actually understates the tone of the event: "Trump and Clinton Press Pointed Attacks in Debate." From the email scandal to the birther issue, the candidates spent a great deal of time attacking each other. In this sense, they represented the nation they hope to lead.

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A surprising fact about tonight's debate

Credit: Mary Altaffer, Chuck Burton via APTonight's debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump is expected to be the most-watched political broadcast in American history. One reason is that the race is so close: a new poll puts Clinton ahead of Trump by two points, 46 percent to 44 percent. This is well within the margin of error. Among registered voters, each candidate has 41 percent support.

But another factor is the huge number of "undecideds" at this late stage of the campaign. Nearly 20 percent of voters say they are undecided or plan not to vote for the Democrat or the Republican. What they do on November 8 will likely determine the election.

Pollster Frank Luntz explains that these voters are undecided because they know a lot about both candidates but don't like either one. As a result, the surprising truth is that the Americans whose impressions of tonight's debate matters most are those who are least impressed by their options. Luntz likens them to children living through a bitter divorce: they are "watching with a mixture of fear and disdain as their parents argue, knowing they will soon be forced to choose with whom to live—a decision with no good outcome."

I think such a view of the election mirrors a larger anxiety in our culture today.

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Broken engagement creates Disney princess

Credit: DPark PhotographyBrooke Lowry found herself single three weeks before her engagement pictures were scheduled to be taken. It was too late to cancel the photography session, and her dresses had already been chosen and tailored. So she decided on a solo shoot at Disneyland. Her pictures are amazing. Her attitude is even more remarkable.

She describes the day: "It honestly couldn't have been a more beautiful experience, and I was filled with the peace and comfort that only comes from above. I'm so glad I decided to go through with the photos, and more importantly, I'm so grateful for the smallest acts of daily kindness that make all the difference in a broken world."

I'm grateful for Brooke's gratitude, a gift of encouragement in the midst of challenging days. Perusing this morning's news: Protests continued last night in Charlotte as the mayor imposed a midnight curfew. Yahoo says hackers stole information from 500 million users. A strong earthquake struck southeast of Tokyo. Another migrant boat capsized in the Mediterranean, killing at least forty-three people.

As difficult as the news is, tragedy can be used for good if it turns us to faith in God and service to others.

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Sistine Chapel frescoes are coming to Dallas

Credit: Uli Deck via API'll never forget the first time I saw Michelangelo's frescoes on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. They are more stunning than any movie or photograph can depict. Soon, however, you won't have to go to Rome to view them. You will be able to see them in Dallas instead.

Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel: The Exhibition makes its first stop in the US at the State Fair of Texas, which opens in Dallas on September 30. The works will be displayed in their original size, reproduced as thirty-four photographs displayed on sixteen-foot panels.

In a way, it's surprising that Michelangelo's masterpiece will be displayed at this city-sponsored event. The frescoes are overtly religious, depicting God's creation of Adam and Eve as well as a variety of biblical prophets and heroes. Given the rising tide against religious freedom, we can envision a day when such depictions will be allowed only inside church buildings.

Consider the frightening US Commission on Civil Rights report making headlines today. It states clearly that if someone alleges discrimination relative to their sexual orientation or gender identity, their claim takes precedence over religious freedom. The Commission's chairman summarized the report: "The phrases 'religious liberty' and 'religious freedom' will stand for nothing except hypocrisy so long as they remain code words for discrimination, intolerance, racism, sexism, homophobia, Islamophobia, Christian supremacy or any form of intolerance" (my emphasis).

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