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Come Reason's Apologetics Notes blog will highlight various news stories or current events and seek to explore them from a thoughtful Christian perspective. Less formal and shorter than the Web site articles, we hope to give readers points to reflect on concerning topics of the day.

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Showing posts with label homosexuality. Show all posts
Showing posts with label homosexuality. Show all posts

Monday, March 13, 2017

Why the Supreme Court's Decision Doesn't Change the Concept of Marriage

Is the question of same-sex marriage over? The Supreme Court has ruled in Obergefell v. Hodges that same-sex marriage is legal and must be recognized across the United States. Does that settle the matter? Actually, no. The Supreme Court has made other definitive decisions which have been later overturned because the assumptions from which those decisions were made were false. Last Monday marked the 160th anniversary of Dred Scott v. Stanford, a seven to two decision by the U.S. Supreme Court that African-Americans whose ancestors were slavers were ineligible to be considered people of the United States. This May will mark the 90th anniversary of the famed Buck v. Bell decision by the Court, where they authorized the forced sterilization of people.

So, what are the assumptions underlying the Obergefell decision? One is that the state has a role in defining marriage.1 Certainly, governments have traditionally recognized marriage and crafted legislation that affects its citizens on the basis of their marriage status, but do governments have the authority to define the very essence of what constitutes marriage? Just what is marriage and who gets to define its terms?

How Do We Begin to Understand Marriage in Relation to Law?

In the debate over same-sex unions, it has been popular to place the "what is marriage" question into a dichotomy. Most people ask whether marriage is something invented by the state or something that stands objectively outside the state. In reality, though, there are three categories societies rely upon to understand and help in the civil interaction between its individuals: societal creations, societal conventions, and natural laws.

Societal creations are those things that are invented by the state. Examples include which is the "right" side of the road to drive on, the legal recognition of corporations as individuals for legal contracts, and the postal system. Each of these are creations of the state and each can be redefined or even abolished through legislation.

Natural laws, on the other hand, are recognized by the state but sit above the state. The right to life, the right practice one's religious beliefs without undue government interference, the right to not be enslaved, and the right to the fruits of one's labor are things that government doesn't give us; we hold them inherently as a result of being human. While governments can pass legislation that denies us our rights, the rights themselves don't go away. They are simply being infringed upon. Just as the slavery issue proved, even if the law states slavery is legal, that doesn't eliminate the right to freedom for the slave. It just means the law is corrupt.

Societal Conventions Differ from Societal Creations

But there's a third aspect to societal interactions: societal conventions. These are things that naturally come out of civil human interaction. David Hume defined convention as "a sense of common interest; which sense each man feels in his own breast, which he remarks in his fellows, and which carries him, in concurrence with others into a general plan or system of actions, which tends to public utility."2I think that's right. Shows of respect, for example, are ubiquitous across all cultures. However, what counts as a sign of respect can differ widely, like bowing before a company president versus simply shaking his hand.

The wedding ring is another convention we use to communicate marriage. Not taking another person's spouse would fall into natural law, but the way to recognize a person as married can and has differed in different societies, with the wedding ring serving as a societal convention that is recognized across Western culture.

Is Marriage a Creation, a Convention, or a Reflection of Nature?

Justice Kennedy in his majority opinion seems to place marriage in the category of a societal convention. He said, "The ancient origins of marriage confirm its centrality, but it has not stood in isolation from developments in law and society." Here, Kennedy is I think purposely obtuse. What does he mean by "the ancient origins of marriage?" The coupling of men and women to produce children is older than human history itself. It's ingrained into our biology. Does that mean every sexual encounter is tantamount to marriage? Of course not. However, marriage has always been seen as the intentional joining of two people of the opposite sex presumably for life, whether or not any government exists to recognize it as such.

Kennedy is also right to say that marriage has not stood "in isolation from developments in law and society." But that doesn't mean marriage itself is a societal convention. While the ring that helps people recognize marriage is a convention, the marriage that it symbolizes existed before rings. It existed before marriage certificates. Marriage is actually a reflection of nature, and to degrade it to a social convention that can be changed or redefined undercuts the essence of what marriage actually is.

So, what about those "developments in law and society" to which Kennedy refers? He rightly raises the point that arranged marriages are no longer the norm for Western societies. More importantly, he points out law of coverture are no longer recognized, either. Is this an example showing how legal recognition changed marriage itself? Do these changes show that marriage itself can evolve? No, for these do nothing to change the essence of marriage, which is the only recognized institution humanity has ever had to properly rear the next generation. Let me state that again. There exists no other institution that human beings recognize for the proper creation and rearing of children than man-woman marriage.

Governments cannot define marriage because governments didn't create marriage. Governments can only recognize marriage as the institution rooted in nature that it is. Like other natural laws, governments can choose to ignore what marriage is or choose to abuse or withhold it from its citizens. Just because the Supreme Court said that Dred Scott had no inalienable rights because his ancestors were slaves or Carrie Buck had no right to protest her forced sterilization, doesn't mean those rights didn't exist. It just meant the Court was in grievous error.

In my next article, I'll go a little further into the distinction between creations, conventions, and natural laws, demonstrating that even though governments may pass laws with respect to aspects of marriage, it in no way proves that marriage itself can be defined by law.


1. In the decision, Justice Kennedy wrote, "Changed understandings of marriage are characteristic of a Nation where new dimensions of freedom become apparent to new generations."
2. Hume, David. "Appendix III. Some farther considerations with regard to Justice." An Enquiry into the Principles of Morals. The University of Adelaide Library. 26 Feb. 2014. Web. 13 Mar. 2017.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

The One Sexual Orientation No One Advocates For

I recently wrote that today's western culture has become so craven we have elevated our sexual appetites above our desire for a civilized society. And I'm not simply talking about suggestive advertisements or sexual references in our entertainment. As I noted there, the "pelvic issues," (homosexuality, transgenderism, abortion) have consumed an inordinate amount of our politics and popular discussion.

The proponents of LGBT rights frame their demands as issues of civil rights.1 In so doing, they make the claim that sexual attraction is considered a viable way of understanding another individual, something that is "inherent and immutable."2 Such language implies sexual desires and preferences are what define you. They constitute an essential part of who you are.

Inherent and Immutable Sexual Desires

If sexual orientation and desire are crucial to understanding who an individual is and if it is true that such desires are inherent and immutable as the HRC's definition states, then all sexual orientations should be accepted and championed equally. But there's one sexual orientation I've not heard any of the pro-LGBT groups bolster and that is the occuposexual.

What is an occuposexual? You won't find it by Googling the word, since I just coined the term myself, but the orientation has a long history and is well-represented online. An occuposexual is someone who is sexually attracted to those already committed to another in a relationship. They are drawn to people who are already relationally occupied.

Before you dismiss this as not a real sexual orientation, you should look at the facts. Occuposexual orientation is real. Dr. Valerie Golden wrote in Psychology Today how recent studies have found "90 percent of single women were interested in a man who they believed was taken, while a mere 59 percent wanted him when told he was single." Certainly, the attraction would differ in degree and not all those women would act on their desires, but Alfred Kinsey's heterosexual/homosexual scale makes the same distinctions.3 This scale was also used to justify the "normalcy" of homosexual desires.

The Desire of Occuposexuals is Like Any Other Sexual Desire

Occuposexuals themselves have written about their desires, using language that sounds just the same as other sexual orientations. In this article entitled "I am Dating a Married Man", a twenty-something woman admits that she is simply attracted to married men. She explains her attraction is because "he's already involved with somebody else. In many cases, the Other Woman wouldn't be turned on by the guy if he wasn't. The fact that he's ‘taken' is proof of his desirability. The fact that another woman's husband wants her is proof of hers."4 Everyone from news outlets to Women's' Health Magazine has articles on the subject.

You may be quick to dismiss such an orientation as regular people who just aren't in control of their predilections. But how can you make that judgment? We know occuposexuality occurs in nature, as the article Infidelity Common Among Birds and Mammals, Experts Say clearly proves. Like the lady in the ‘I am Dating a Married Man" article explains, she knows that what she's doing isn't right, but she can't help herself. She's gone from one married man to another even though she knows it's wrong and it's trouble. In fact, in any type of objection that occuposexuality is somehow different from other sexual orientations fails by using the very same arguments the pro-homosexual community has used for decades in their advocacy.

So Why Is No One Championing the Occuposexual?

You may notice something unique, though, about their occuposexual. While groups like GLAAD and HRC are quick to demand rights for their constituencies, who they classify as "sexual minorities," no one is championing the occuposexual's rights to come out of the closet, to express their sexuality as they feel it, or really to even exist. Why not? The answer is easy. No one wants their significant other snatched from them by an occuposexual. They believe even though this is a sexual desire, one that's real, it is ultimately a desire and the occuposexual doesn't have to act upon it. They believe the person who holds that desire is responsible for his or her actions, even if that means seeking out help to properly deal with those inherent desires. Plus, occuposexuality will never be a big winner in the public's opinion.

But all of this makes my point. It's easy to justify desires when others cannot see the serious impact they have on a society. It's easy to assert the idea that sexual orientation is a fundamental function of who you are and not a secondary function. I say the human being is not whatever his or her sexual attractions may be. Human beings are too valuable to be reduced to their sexual desires. That's true for the occuposexual as well as any other form of sexual orientation. By elevating sexual identity to something inherent and immutable, one must make room for the occuposexual to find his or her fulfillment in sexual expression, too. Are you willing to give up your mate or are you just a bigoted occupophobe?


1. Becker, John. "LGBT Rights Are Civil Rights." The Huffington Post., 23 Mar. 2012. Web. 21 Feb. 2017.
2. "Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Definitions." Human Rights Campaign. Human Rights Campaign, n.d. Web. 21 Feb. 2017.
3. "The Kinsey Scale." The Kinsey Institute. The Trustees of Indiana University, 2017. Web. 21 Feb. 2017.
4. DOLCE84. " I Am Dating a Married Man Story & Experience." The Experience Project. The Experience Project, 5 Sept. 2007. Web. 21 Feb. 2017.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

The Problem of Living in a Crotch-Driven Culture

One can tell a lot about the value of a society by what occupies its attention and effort. The Greeks were thinkers, who spent a significant amount of time developing philosophy and logic. They saw value in the mind, believing that clear thinking was the key to understanding the wider world.

In the 21st century, it's obvious that our culture emphasizes the crotch over the mind. What are the "hot topics" glut our headlines and dominate our conversations? It's sex. Sex is inescapable today. Our media choices are drenched with it and our politics are obsessed with it. That's why the "pelvic issues" are getting so much attention. Homosexuality, transsexuality, abortion, birth control are the focii of recent political protests, where adults will actually dress up as genitals—dress up as genitals!—in order to demand… what exactly? More availability for consequence-free sexual experiences?

Decivilizing Civilization

What does it mean to be civilized? It isn't our infrastructure or our technology that civilizes us. It isn't creating new ways to manufacture things or making it easier to do the mundane tasks life requires. For when we talk of someone being civil, we are commenting on the character of the individual in question. If someone is insulting or brutish, that person is uncivil. They would rather lash out with their feelings than recognize the humanity of the other individual. The three R's of reason, regard, and reverence are what make us human and distinguish us from animals.

Thus, civilization is predicated on the fact that human beings are not slaves to their natural impulses. Just because one feels an urge to copulate doesn't mean one should immediately attempt to do so any more than just because one passes by some delectable morsel one should immediately attempt to eat it. It may not be yours. It may not be the right time, perhaps a business meeting where the food is laid out for the meeting's conclusion or a wedding where the bride and groom should be served first. To give license to on one's base desires is to show contempt for others and to be uncivil.

Identity from a Crotch-Driven Culture

However, in our crotch-driven culture, we now seek to celebrate the base desires. In fact, people use their base desires as their primary form of identity. A person will say he or she identifies as homosexual heterosexual, bisexual, transsexual, or whatever the most recently vogue sexual predilection may be. My question is why in the world would anyone want to have their bedroom activities be highlighted as their primary attribute? How is that a good thing for elevating the understanding of ourselves as human beings?

All of this doesn't mean I am taking some kind of "don't ask, don't tell" approach. What I'm saying is that previous generations saw sexual drives and desires as things people did, not who people were. The concept of homosexuality as it is used today is actually very new. It shifts the focus from the act to the attraction itself. But doing so tells us nothing of the rightness or wrongness of homosexual acts. There are base desires that people have where it may be sometimes wrong to act upon them (such as above) and other desires where it is always wrong to act upon them. Placing the emphasis upon the fact that one has the desire gives us no information as to whether one should act upon them or not. But we know that to be civilized would mean that one must be able to control oneself in spite of those desires.

To identify as homosexual or heterosexual or whatever strikes me as elevating the base instincts one has to a status they shouldn't occupy. Yet, that seems to be exactly what Pride parades, genital costumes, and such are seeking to promote. Why would you want me to think of the primary driver of your life as satiating an urge that most people accomplish in half an hour once or twice a week? It is decivilizing. (And if your first reaction to that prior sentence is to mock the frequency or duration, then you're proving my point—that's the reaction of pre-pubescent boys, not thoughtful adults.)

I don't identify as heterosexual; I'm simply attracted to people of the opposite sex. I identify as a rational, civilized human being who will reserve the details of my most intimate moments for personal rather than public consumption. I seek to view other people in the same way. Those campaigning for the pelvic issues aren't advancing civilization, they're regressing from it.

Image courtesy Gnhn. Licensed via the Creative Commons 3.0 Attribution Share-Alike CC BY-SA 3.0 license.

Tuesday, September 06, 2016

Ignore the Right of Conscience at Your Peril

At the beginning of Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End, we are treated to an ominous scene. Dozens of subjects are marched to the gallows and hanged as an official reads an edict from the local magistrate declaring:
In order to affect a timely halt to deteriorating conditions and to ensure the common good, a state of emergency is declared for these territories by decree of Lord Cutler Beckett, duly appointed representative of His Majesty, the king.

By decree, according to martial law, the following statutes are temporarily amended:
  • Right to assembly, suspended.
  • Right to habeas corpus, suspended.
  • Right to legal counsel, suspended.
  • Right to verdict by a jury of peers, suspended.
By decree, all persons found guilty of piracy, or aiding a person convicted of piracy, or associating with a person convicted of piracy shall be sentenced to hang by the neck until dead.
The message the filmmaker wants to communicate is unmistakable. Unilaterally jettisoning the rights of the people allows despotism to flourish. As we watch even a young boy approach the hangman's noose, we are to recoil at the injustice of it all. We are to understand Lord Beckett as evil.

What About the Greater Good?

The film's portrayal of such measures is ham-fisted, which is to be expected when the heroes are the pirates. In reality, pirates have been and still are real menaces to society. They threatened life, peace, and property. So, would declaring a suspension of rights for the general safety of the colony and the colonists be the right thing to do? I guess it depends on the rights in question and the circumstances necessitating it, but such actions prove to be dangerous.
At the beginning of the Civil War in the U.S., President Lincoln suspended the right to trial for Southern sympathizers in the North who were sabotaging telegraph cables and attacking troops. A U.S. News and World Report article reports how Lincoln believed such drastic action would be limited and for a very short period, with no long-term effects.1 However, the powers in the state of Missouri took martial law to new levels and greedily clung to the efficient effectivelness of forcing the citizenry to its own point of view:
In March 1865, a newspaper correspondent in St. Louis reported that many Republicans in Missouri—not just the state's leaders—had come to admire the efficiency of martial law: "So far from being unpopular, it is believed that a large portion of our loyal people are willing to see a provision incorporated in the charter of the city, requiring six months of martial law to be imposed . . . every five years to clean up all the little cases of outraged justice, loose indictments, public corruption and private peculation, which the ordinary courts cannot reach.2
The article quotes historian Eric Foner that Lincoln found "It is much easier to put these restrictions in place than it is to stop them."3

The Danger of Losing Our Right to Conscience Today

Today, there is a mindset gaining ground in our courts and among our politicians that certain rights are less important than what they perceive as the good of the public. The rights of individuals to exercise his or her sincerely held religious convictions by refusing to participate in same sex union ceremonies has come under attack. Small business owners, like Jack Phillips, Barronelle Stutzman, Cynthia and Robert Gifford, Aaron and Melissa Klein, and a bevy of others have felt the power and pressure of the state to violate their beliefs and their consciences in order to two what those in power perceive as an appropriate line.

What makes the states' actions all the more insidious is the fact that there is no imminent threat of "rebellion or invasion" which Lincoln pointed to when issuing his suspension of the law. There aren't even any pirates that threaten one's life, peace, and property. There are only those who assert they must quash such acts of defiance in order to fight "discrimination," as Colorado Civil Rights Commissioner Diann Rice declared in ruling against Masterpiece Cakeshop:
Freedom of religion and religion has been used to justify all kinds of discrimination throughout history, whether it be slavery, whether it be the holocaust, whether it be — I mean, we — we can list hundreds of situations where freedom of religion has been used to justify discrimination. And to me it is one of the most despicable pieces of rhetoric that people can use to — to use their religion to hurt others.4
To see the irony of Rice's statement, you should probably read the article "How a Cakebaker Became an Enemy of the State" over at The Federalist. It is Rice and those who think like her who are actually the ones justifying discriminative policies that jeopardize the rights of the citizenry. She sounds very much like the Lord Beckett character, declaring the curtailment of rights simply to "affect a timely halt to deteriorating conditions and to ensure the common good." But what happens when that power is targeted towards other ideas, perhaps ideas that Rice herself holds? She may find that it is much easier to put these powers into place than it is to get rid of them.


1. Ewers, Justin. "Revoking Civil Liberties: Lincoln's Constitutional Dilemma." U.S.News & World Report. U.S.News & World Report. LP, 10 Feb. 2009. Web. 06 Sept. 2016.
2. Ewers, Justin. 2009.
3. Ewers, Justin. 2009.
4. Harsanyi, David. "How A Cakemaker Became An Enemy Of The State." The Federalist. The Federalist, 06 Sept. 2016. Web. 06 Sept. 2016.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

The Left is Intent on Making Us Less Human

One of the more famous stories in sports originates in Berkeley, California. The 1929 U.C. Berkeley football team had made its way to the famed Rose Bowl, playing for the championship against Georgia Tech. In the second quarter, while the game was still scoreless, Berkeley center Roy Riegels scooped up a fumble, bounced off a blocker, and ran 66 yards towards his own end zone. He would have crossed the goal line if it hadn't been for his teammate Benny Lom who chased after him and got him to change direction on the one yard line.1 The incident would become one of the most famous in Rose Bowl history.

When Reigels was running with the ball, he obviously thought he was going to be a hero. "Wrong Way" Riegels did become the stuff of legends, but not for the reason he had in mind. Today, I see a similar pattern with the Leftist movement in the United States. Especially in the last decade, the Left have been gaining ground on the cultural gridiron, scoring again and again what they believe are victories for human progress. They even have favored the label Progressives over the earlier Liberals as descriptive of their desires. However, I think th label is completely wrong. What they advocate does not advance the progress and dignity of humanity at all.

Rationality as the Essence of Man

What is the essence of man? Aristotle held that rationality is essential to being human. In his Metaphysics he explains rationality is something different than a skill, such as the ability to be musical. Some people have musical talent and some don't. But rational deliberation—the ability to take some set of facts and draw a proper conclusion from them—is a uniquely human capacity. Animals work off of their biological urges and appetites, not reason. That's why if you are visiting a friend's home and his dog tries to become intimate with your leg, you don't wonder why the dog didn't figure out that the mechanics of procreation wouldn't work that way; they must include the participation of a female dog. Animals cannot reason abstractly. The dog simply is seeking to satisfy his appetites.

It is enough that the animal feels the urge in order for it to act upon that urge. Humans recognize the need to train their pets to act differently, so they can associate a different action in the animal for the urge it feels. However, humans are not supposed to be slaves to our urges. We are not to react to our appetites without regard to consequences. It is our rationality that governs our actions and even if the feeling is new, we expect one to not simply act upon it without reflecting on what the result of those actions would be.

Arguing for Our Appetites

For centuries the concept of strengthening our rationality to govern our appetites has been the hallmark of civil society. Today the progressive agenda turns that idea on its head. For example, the LGBT community advanced by the Left today claims we should identify an entire segment of humanity by their sexual predilections. But certainly this is encouraging human beings to be defined by their appetites and not their rationality. Why should we label people by how they receive sexual pleasure as if that's the primary component of what makes them human? Sexual urges are in the appetites category. It seems to assume that such appetites are uncontrollable and must be satiated.

When one considers transgenderism, the case becomes worse. Not only do the self-identified progressives demand we believe a person who is suffering from gender dysphoria has no recourse but to live as the opposite sex, but they ask us against all reason to believe that biology is so malleable that some outward surgical changes are all that's necessary for that biology to be erased and replaced. Worse, there is sufficient data to show such reassignment surgeries are not medically efficacious as suicide rates for post-transition patients equal those of patients who hadn't had the surgery.

Where's the Reason?

Other examples from the Left can be brought to bear. There is no reason in the pro-abortion movement ever more desperately denying the established fact that a fetus is an unborn human being. Progressive college students now seek to silence any views that oppose their own in the name of tolerance. And universities that long ago threw away any restrictions on sexual promiscuity now are scratching their heads about what they themselves describe as a culture of rape on campuses.

In all these areas and more, any dispassionate observer should see the result of these movements isn't less appetite and more reason, but the reverse. Instead of progress we are getting regress. We are sliding back into a more animalistic approach where anyone's particular feeling must be met, sanctioned, and even cheered without regard to consequence.

How will humanity fare when all of this is said and done? Wrong Way Reigels was stopped before he crossed the goal line. However, he brought the ball close enough that Georgia Tech blocked a punt for a safety on the next play, ultimately allowing them to win the game 8-7. If we don't turn around soon, we may revert to a barbarism not seen since before the Christian era. That would really be a loss for the ages.


1. 09, August. "Wrong-Way Run Finally Turns Out." Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles Times, 09 Aug. 1991. Web. 11 July 2016.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

A Christian Response to the Tragedy in Orlando (video)

The recent slaughter at the gay nightclub in Orlando Florida has sparked a variety of reactions. The gunman was Muslim, even claiming to act in solidarity with ISIS and the victims were gay. But, some blame the motivation for the murderous rampage on the anti-homosexual stance taken by Christians.

It is true that Christians have been at odds with those who lobby for things like same sex marriage. Activists have sued Christian bakers, florists, photographers, innkeepers, and others forcing them to lose their livelihoods. So, how should Christians respond in this instance? The answer is that Christians should love the LGBT so much they are willing to lay down their lives.

In this short video, Lenny looks to the instructions Paul lays out in Romans 12:9-21 and says Christians should show love. We should be self-sacrificial, even when those who would persecute you are being threatened. See why Christians should be willing to step in front of a bullet meant for another, no matter what their political stance is.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

The Case Against Same-Sex Marriage (podcast)

Homosexual marriage has become more than simply a hot-button issue; Christians are losing their businesses and going to jail when they stand against it. Yet, we're the ones labeled as bigots. How can Christians properly present their views to nonbelievers without being viewed as "bigoted"? Learn how to argue that natural marriage is not only biblical, but essential for culture.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Bloodletting and the Modern Trans Movement

As I engage with atheists and skeptics, I hear so many of them state that religious beliefs are nothing more than outdated beliefs of a bygone era. They claim that as people of science in the 21st century we are so much more enlightened and rational than those of other eras. Level-headed people of the modern world who place their trust in science are not nearly as gullible as people in the past, they claim. Then they turn around and argue that gender has nothing to do with biology and a person's perceived identity is all that's required to change a male into a female.

I think this reminds me a lot of a sketch I saw in the early days of Saturday Night Live entitled "Theodoric of York; Medieval Barber." Host Steve Martin takes on the role of Theodoric and makes great fun of the idea that certain illnesses were treated by bloodletting. Part of the humor stems from Theodoric's modern-day rhetoric, whereby he ascribes knowledge and insight into his treatment:
You know, medicine is not an exact science but we're learning all the time. Why, just fifty years ago, we would've thought your daughter's illness was brought on by demonic possession or witchcraft. But nowadays we know that Isabel is suffering from an imbalance of bodily humors perhaps caused by a toad or small dwarf living in her stomach.1
Certainly, Martin is using great exaggeration to make a joke. Yet it is true that bloodletting was practiced widely for many centuries, ever since prominent Roman physician Galen of Pergamum described the theory that there were four primary liquids or "humours " affecting the body: phlegm, blood, black bile, and yellow bile.2 Galen had through both observation and inference come to the conclusion that when a person is sick, their humours are "out of balance" as Michael Boylan explains:
When imbalance occurred, then the physician might intervene by making a correction to bring the body back into balance. For example, if the individual were too full of phlegm (making her phlegmatic or lethargic), then the phlegm must be countered. Citrus fruit was thought to be a counter-acting agent. Thus, if one feels lethargic, increasing one's citrus intake will re-create balance. The treatment is, in fact, generally effective.3

Biased Assertions Lead to Bad Diagnoses

Of course today we see such an inference as silly and worthy of ridicule in an SNL sketch. Galen had an incorrect assumption of what blood was and how the body used it.4 It was his errant assumptions that are at the root of those crazy treatment methods. To be certain, bloodletting sometimes worked, but they probably caused far more harm than good overall.

Today's rush by the left –including the intelligentsia—to validate anyone who even hints at gender dysphoria should be disconcerting to any rational populous. I've pointed out before how we have fifty years of data under our collective medical belts on gender reassignment surgery and we know that the suicide rate for those suffering from gender dysphoria is as high after sexual reassignment surgery (SRS) as it is prior to transitioning. Dr. Paul McHugh, who helped pioneer the procedure at Johns Hopkins University has written extensively on the failure of SRS as an effective treatment and explained that Johns Hopkins stopped doing the procedure as a result.5

Now, the powerful agencies like the Obama Administration have gone even farther off the deep end and demanded that anyone who simply claims to be a different gender should be allowed to use the restrooms and locker rooms of their stated sex. The demand comes with no accountability and no requirement of proof that the claimant actually does wish to consistently live and be seen as whatever their stated gender preference is.6

Fluid Gendered Identity is the Bloodletting of Today

Just claiming it makes it so? Surely, this cannot be! Certainly, we are in a more rational time than that of the medieval barber. Certainly we don't approach a treatment based only on whatever our initial biases are, do we? It seems we do.

The biases that those who are pushing these laws in direct disregard for the safety and wellbeing of millions of women and young girls in our nation are sheer willed to have their version of life playout, regardless of the facts. We are not any more rational than people of other eras. Every culture can fall victim to what we want to be true and ignore those inconvenient facts when they get in the way of those desires.

I wonder if in a century or two we will look back on the insanity of the gender identity movement today and shake our heads with the same incredulousness that we do concerning the practice of bloodletting. If not, there will be untold thousands who are seriously harmed by such medical quackery guised as treatment.


1. Martin, Steve. "Theodoric of York: Medieval Barber." Saturday Night Live. Prod. Loren Michaels. NBC. New Yrok, NY, 22 Apr. 1978. NBC. Web. 16 May 2016.
2. Boylan, Michael. "Galen (130—200 C.E.)." Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, n.d. Web. 16 May 2016.
3. Boylan, Michael. "Hippocrates (c. 450—c. 380 B.C.E.)." Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, n.d. Web. 16 May 2016.
4. "Galen." Medical Discoveries. Advameg, Inc., n.d. Web. 16 May 2016.
5. McHugh, Paul. "Transgender Surgery Isn't the Solution." Wall Street Journal. Dow Jones & Company, Inc., 12 June 2014. Web. 02 June 2015.
6. Davis, Julie Hirschfield, and Matt Apuzzo. "U.S. Directs Public Schools to Allow Transgender Access to Restrooms." The New York Times. The New York Times, 12 May 2016. Web. 16 May 2016.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Jesus Ate with Criminals; Why Wouldn't He Bake a Cake for a Gay Person?

The radical shift in society's understanding of homosexual unions has caused a sort of whiplash in our culture. Homosexual activists see any resistance to their agenda as bigotry, yet Christians are caught between the teaching of scripture on homosexual activities and the command of Jesus to love one's enemies. Further, Jesus seemed to embrace people who were marginalized by the religious conservatives of his day. What's a Christian to do?

This tension has played out fairly visibly in the news and in the courts with Christians such as florist Barronelle Stutzman who refused to provide flowers for her longtime customer Rob Ingersoll because those arrangements were intended to celebrate Ingersoll's union with another man or photographer Elane Huguenin, who was told by the New Mexico Supreme Court her free speech rights were secondary to the state's non-discrimination laws when she turned down photographing a lesbian couple's ceremony. Aaron and Melissa Klein's story is perhaps more notable. The Kleins were ordered to pay a $135,000 fine for refusing to bake a wedding cake for a homosexual couple.

Was Jesus an Enabler?

The legal bludgeoning of Christians who as a matter of conscience wish to not celebrate a ceremony that stands in direct opposition to their beliefs is alarming. It has sparked several states to try and balance the anti-discrimination laws which most believe are good things with accommodations for matters of conscience where one may disagree with the message one is being forced to send.

Even here, such moves have prompted a considerable backlash, even among Christians. I recently saw a tweet that tried to argue in just that way. Showing a picture of Florida Governor Rick Scott signing a law protecting pastors, she tweeted: "Jesus ate dinner with criminals and prostitutes and you're telling me you can't bake a cake for a gay person?"

Drury is alluding to the times in the Gospels where Jesus asks to dine with people like Zaccheus (Luke 19:18) and Levi, tax collectors who had a habit of overcharging the citizenry so they could pocket the excess. Mark tells the story: "When the scribes of the Pharisees saw that He was eating with the sinners and tax collectors, they said to His disciples, ‘Why is He eating and drinking with tax collectors and sinners?' And hearing this, Jesus said to them, ‘It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick; I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners'" (Mark 2:16-17, ESV).

I think Drury is simply wrong in trying to claim this incident is a parallel. Certainly, Jesus reached out to those with whom he disagreed and he even ate with them, which would be considered an act of friendship in that culture. However, Jesus very clearly stated why he did these things. He came to call sinners to repentance. In other words, Jesus was trying to get them to change their ways.

Now, imagine a different scenario. After dinner, instead of Zaccheus telling Jesus "Behold, Lord, half of my possessions I will give to the poor, and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I will give back four times as much" he asks, "Jesus, since you are a carpenter by trade, I wish to hire you to build me a tax collection booth so I can continue with my chosen lifestyle. Since your services are available for public consumption, I think you should make my job collecting money from the people easier, even if you disagree with what I'm doing." That's the equivalent scenario. Does anyone believe that Jesus would acquiesce to such a demand?

Forcing one to violate conviction means forcing group-think

In the florist case above, Stutzman never refused to sell to Ingersoll because he was homosexual. He was a regular customer. Instead, she refused to draw upon her artistic talent to celebrate an event she considered to violate here convictions. To participate in a celebration is tantamount to endorsing it. The Kleins were in a similar situation. Huguenin's work included crafting a book that would evoke feelings of warmth and celebration as part of her services. It was a story that she simply didn't believe and therefore wished to refuse.

Beliefs and convictions are important. They matter as they shape who we are. If any of these folks were operating a grocery store and those couples came in to buy film or cake mix or even pre-cut flowers from the store's cart I would say they were wrong in their refusal. But that isn't the situation here. In each of these cases, the business provider would have to participate in some meaningful way in the celebration of the event. It's asking someone to participate in what they think is wrong that is the true violation here. To force someone to violate their convictions is to impose a form of group-think upon those with whom one disagrees. That isn't only wrong, but dangerous for society.

Jesus did eat with sinners, but he never made it easier for them to continue in their sins. He may have healed the woman caught in adultery, but he also commanded her to go and sin no more.

Image courtesy Stephanie Astono Salim (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Christian Bakers Forced to Pay Fines; Here's What We Can Learn

This morning, the lawyer representing Sweet Cakes by Melissa reported that the couple was paying the fine of over $135,000 levied against them by Oregon's Bureau of Labor and Industries for not baking a wedding cake for a lesbian couple. Oregon Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian doled out the heavy-handed fine, claiming the bakers were being immoral in their stance, inflicting emotional and mental suffering and violating the women's civil rights by discriminating on the basis of their sexual orientation.1 Avakian had prompted the payment by seizing every penny the bakers had in their bank accounts.2

It seems we live in a topsy-turvy world where wrong is called right and right is called wrong. But this shouldn't be a surprise to Christians. I understand that people have a tendency to think of the problems they currently face as new or unique. While for some things this may be true (substituting screen time for real relationships doesn't seem to be a problem of past generations), human beings are a remarkably consistent lot and the early believers faced many of the same trials we do today.

Athenagoras gives us one example. In the second century AD, Christians were being persecuted in various cities across the Roman Empire on trumped up charges. Different city official and citizens objected to Christians not bowing to their gods, which basically meant rejecting whatever morality they themselves deemed appropriate. The officials would put the Christians on trial under false accusations, such as being immoral or being atheists, condemn them in a kangaroo court, and use it as justification to persecute them and seize their belongings.

Charges of immorality are as old as Christianity

The injustice of this all disturbed Christian philosopher Athenagoras so much that in AD 177 he wrote a letter to Marcus Aurelius Antoninus, the Emperor of Rome himself and argued the case for the Christians. One of the charges brought against Christians was they were engaging in immoral sexual acts. Athenagoras writes, "they have further also made up stories against us of impious feasts and forbidden intercourse between the sexes, both that they may appear to themselves to have rational grounds of hatred, and because they think either by fear to lead us away from our way of life, or to render the rulers harsh and inexorable by the magnitude of the charges they bring."3

Athenagoras goes on to argue that Christians are not immoral at all; they are actually more moral than even the belief systems of their accusers, pointing out how gods the officials worship, such as Zeus, were adulterers and incestuous. He writes that Christians held to a high view of the sanctity of marriage. He then goes on to compare Christians and their accusers. Notice how modern the charges in this paragraph sound:
But though such is our character (Oh! Why should I speak of things unfit to be uttered?), the things said of us are an example of the proverb, "The harlot reproves the chaste." For those who have set up a market for fornication and established infamous resorts for the young for every kind of vile pleasure—who do not abstain even from males, males with males committing shocking abominations, outraging all the noblest and comeliest bodies in all sorts of ways, so dishonouring the fair workmanship of God (for beauty on earth is not self-made, but sent hither by the hand and will of God)—these men, I say, revile us for the very things which they are conscious of themselves, and ascribe to their own gods, boasting of them as noble deeds, and worthy of the gods. These adulterers and pederasts defame [people choosing to remain unmarried for life] and the once-married (while they themselves live like fishes; for these gulp down whatever falls in their way, and the stronger chases the weaker…), but it is incumbent on us to be good and patient of evil.

Two Lessons from Athenagoras

While the persecution of Christian bakers is not nearly as severe as what second century Christians faced, I think there are lessons to be gleaned from the parallels between this event and what Christians faced in Athenagoras' day. First, charges against Christians on grounds of morality won't go away. Christian values are not those of the world and no one should be surprised when those who are in charge come against Christians and successfully use the law as a hammer against them. Jesus himself warned us of this when he said, "If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you" (John 15:18-19. ESV).

Secondly, we must make certain as Christians that we consistently live up to our own moral standards. Athenagoras' argument is anchored on the fact that Christians really did value marriage. They held it in the highest regard and shunned things like divorce and adultery. He states Christians are opposed to immorality for entertainment, such as was common in the gladiatorial events.

How seriously do Christians take their entertainment choices? Do you hold your marriage in the highest of regards, seeing it as inviolable until death? Does your life help make the case against persecution or is it undercutting the contrast? We must live as Christ has told us to live, for we will certainly suffer if we bear his name.


1. Rede, George. "Sweet Cakes Owners Pay Damages While Continuing Appeal of $135,000 Bias Case." Oregon Live LLC., 28 Dec. 2015. Web. 29 Dec. 2015.
2. Starnes, Todd. "Costly Beliefs: State Squeezes Last Penny from Bakers Who Defied Lesbian-wedding Cake Order." Fox News. FOX News Network, 29 Dec. 2015. Web. 29 Dec. 2015.
3. Athenagoras. "A Plea for the Christians." Chapter 31. Translated by B.P. Pratten. Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. 2. Edited by Alexander Roberts, James Donaldson, and A. Cleveland Coxe. (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1885.) Revised and edited for New Advent by Kevin Knight. Web.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Here's a Tip: Use Analogies Cut to the Heart of Controversies

It's difficult to discuss hot-button issues today. On certain topics, people hold positions which make communicating the underlying principles much more difficult. Take the conflict between same sex unions and the wedding photographers or cake bakers as an example. Because the conflict has been framed in terms of bigotry and discrimination, the question of whether the state has a right to enforce people to violate their consciousness or their beliefs can become lost. Rather than debating the principles of the freedom the act in a way consistent to one's own beliefs, the discussion usually gets mired in the rights of two people to marry whomever they wish, which is beside the point.

I had the opportunity to share breakfast this morning with Dr. Francis Beckwith, and he noted that in cases where the rhetoric overwhelms the discussion, it helps to draw upon analogies or thought experiments. If the analogy is drawn well, one can construct a similar situation that calls upon the same ideological parameters but offers a different circumstance, perhaps one in which the recipient isn't as emotionally invested.

Beckwith said he has effectively used this type of approach with his students or in conferences when talking about the question of a Christian photographer being compelled by the state to photograph a same sex wedding. As I mentioned, the whole topic of same sex unions has been beaten down with overheated rhetoric and it can really overshadow what is a different issue here—whether a person has a right to be faithful to his or her conscience. So, if I'm concerned about keeping the sanctity to make choices that are faithful to my own conscience, a good way to communicate that is to use a situation that removes the same sex marriage component completely but still displays the conflict.

A Beef About A Bris

One example he gave is to imagine a Jewish couple hiring a photographer to record their eight-day-old son's bris. The bris is a religious ceremony that includes the circumcision of the infant. It is deeply significant, especially to those holding to Jewish orthodoxy, and signals the addition of the child to the Jewish covenant and to the community. However, circumcision is actually pretty controversial these days, with organizations believing that the cutting of the child's foreskin amounts to genital mutilation and coupled with the fact that the child cannot give consent to such a procedure, it is immoral.1

In his thought experiment, Beckwith asks the listener to imagine that the photographer has some deeply held beliefs that circumcision is child abuse and mutilation and therefore he cannot on good conscience photograph the bris. Does he have the right to refuse this request? Given the central importance circumcision plays in the Jewish identity, is it bigotry on the part of the photographer to refuse this couple? What would you think if they sued him on grounds of discriminating against their Jewish heritage and forced him to take pictures of the bris? Would such a judgment be right in your eyes?

As you can see, this thought experiment puts the very issue of fidelity to one's moral beliefs at the center of the discussion. If the principle should be applied in a specific way in the circumcision case, we can then apply it in the same-sex union case.

Be Careful with Your Analogies

One note of caution you should keep in mind when offering an analogy in this way: the analogy must be as close as possible to the original situation. In both cases above, you will note that both marriage and the bris are identifying, major life events. For a segment of society both are steeped in religious meaning; marriage is a sacrament in the Roman Catholic Church and the bris is fundamental to the Jewish faith. Both are real modern-day issues with a diversity of sincerely held opinions. Even the photographer's job is the same. The only variable is the circumstance in which the photographer is being asked to violate his or her conscience. This makes the analogy particularly effective and it focuses the debate where it should be, on the issue at hand.

Analogies and thought experiments are useful tools in gaining understanding for abstract concepts wile dodging the emotional reactions that can accompany controversial topics. Sometimes, they don't form immediately. They may be developed and refined over time to increase their effectiveness. But their power to cut through much of the rhetoric and get to the central conflict makes those efforts more worthwhile.


1. Robbins, Martin. "Infant Male Circumcision Is Genital Mutilation." The Guardian. Guardian News and Media Limited, 6 Dec. 2011. Web. 19 Nov. 2015.

Friday, November 06, 2015

Nature, Desire, and the Purpose of Marriage

Why is it important that natural laws be considered when passing legislation? In his book, Written on the Heart: The Case for Natural Law, J. Budziszewski outlines Thomas Aquinas' approach to natural law and how it should anchor our civil laws. Budziszewski first points out that natural laws function kind of like primary colors. They are foundational and all other colors can be developed by the mixing of red, blue, and yellow.

One confusing aspect of natural law is how Aquinas believed that all natural inclinations are good and should be pursued while seeking after unnatural inclinations should be avoided. Budzeszewski notes it sounds like Aquinas is teaching that whatever one's desire is, that should be fulfilled. However, that isn't what is meant. He then draw the distinction between any inclination, including those that may have resulted from our fallen nature, and natural inclinations. The difference is found in the teleology, that is the end purpose or design of the thing being discussed. Budziszewski explains:
In drawing the two sexes together, for instance, sexual desire serves two purposes, one called procreative and the other unitive. Why not a third: pleasure? Has Thomas got something against having a good time? No, but he follows Aristotle in viewing pleasure as a result of our activities rather than the purpose for which we do them—as a crowning grace, not a goal. The problem is that pleasure can result from doing wrong as well as from doing right. Therefore pleasure cannot be used as a criterion for judging between good and bad inclinations; rather the purposes of the inclinations must be used to judge between good and bad pleasures.

Now the procreative purpose of physical union is to bring children into a secure family in which they can be taught and cared for by a mother and father who love them. Only a man and a woman can procreate a child, and we sever the institution of marriage from the natural purpose of procreation only at our peril. Perhaps that is too obvious to require further discussion. The unitive purpose, however, is not so obvious. What we mean by saying that physical union has a unitive purpose is that it can also further a deeper union between the husband and wife.

To understand the unitive purpose we must recognize that the sexes are not only different but complementary. God could have made just one self-sufficient sex. Instead he made two, each of which feels itself incomplete and longs for the other. The canyon between them is deep, but bridging it is well worth the patience and discipline it requires.

To be sure, there are other ways to use the sexual powers, ways that do not bridge the canyon. For instance, solitary sex sinks a person more deeply in the self; sodomy sinks him into a looking-glass idol of the self; and promiscuity merely uses the other for the purposes of the self. By contrast, marriage holds forth the prospect of altogether forgetting the self in care and sacrifice for the other. We come to ourselves by losing ourselves. This extraordinary intimacy is among the profoundest of natural goods. Of course, Divine law goes even further, describing it as a foretaste of our supernatural good—that still deeper union to which we are invited with the wholly other, who is God—but that is another topic.1
This is a clear way to understand how the design of human beings points to a natural man/woman pairing, and how sexual function has primary and tertiary purposes. It doesn't deny sex for couples that may be infertile, since they are still acting within natural inclinations, even if no child will ever result. However, it also highlights the impossibility of any same-sex coupling to ever be able to make the same claim. This is why whenever I talk about marriage, I talk about natural marriage, because man/woman marriage reflects biology and natural law.


1. Budziszewski, J. Written on the Heart: The Case for Natural Law. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1997. Print. 70-71.
IMage courtesy Ray Dumas and licensed via the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0) license.

Friday, July 03, 2015

Why Christian Opposition to Obergefell is Not Pushing a Theocracy

Last Friday's Supreme Court decision that forced all fifty states to recognize same sex unions as legal marriage continues to ripple through our culture. So many people on all sides of the issue are confused about just how far the decision impacts them, their faith, and their lives.

My friend Mike Licona reposted a question concerning how the Supreme Court's ruling affects Christians and why we are so upset. He recounts:
Chris Armer commented on my earlier post. He asked whether I believe a Christian might be able to look at the issue of same sex marriage in a manner similar to religious liberty; that a Christian could be against the act but for the freedom to do that act. For example, one might disagree with Islam but support a Muslim's right to worship freely in the U.S.1
I also saw a meme circulating on the Internet that asks, "You're upset because you want your religious laws to be the law of the land. Do you know who else wants that? ISIS." Are these charges fair? I don't think so. While it is true that my religious belief informs my opposition to Obergefell, it is not the only factor involved. In fact, I think there are at least three separate but interrelated offenses that the Obergefell decision violated and it's important to understand the distinctions between them.

1.The Obergefell Decision Contradicts Christian Theology

The Obergefell decision offends Christians because of their theological understanding of marriage. Marriage is described in the Bible as the joining of a man and a woman where "they two shall become one flesh" (Matt 19:5, Gen. 2:24). Such a phrase denotes a physical joining of two people together—in other words sexual relations. Biblical marriage is conjugal; and of everything is working as intended, the two will literally become one flesh in producing a child.

Because homosexual sexual relationships are forbidden in the Bible, Christians see the Obergefell decision as antithetical to biblical values. They are right in this. The objection above, though, holds in this instance. There are many other human acts that are not illegal but are anti-biblical. Take the ever more common occurrence of two people living together out of wedlock. Should the government outlaw these relationships, too? Of course not. We are, as Licona rightly noted, not a theocracy and Christianity has never been about coerced morality.

Still, Christians are part of the governmental authority and from this position alone they have a right to keep immoral actions from becoming sanctioned. Christians have every right to protest and try to vote down laws making recreational use of marijuana legal, for example. The United States is a government of the people, by the people, and for the people, thus Christian views should count as part of that process. This is not a push of theocracy; it is giving a voice to a significant portion of the U.S. constituency. It is the outworking of a representative democracy. The ISIS comparison fails in this respect.

However, my complaint against Obergefell is not simply theological. There are at least two other spheres the decision affected, and those are important to recognize as well.

2.The Obergefell Decision Denies the Democratic Process

While Christians are not trying to impose a theocracy upon the nation, they are also upset because the decision really violates the established process of representative government we agreed to in both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. The dissenting Justices clearly saw this decision as a Constitutional tragedy. Chief Justice Roberts wrote:
Many people will rejoice at this decision, and I begrudge none their celebration. But for those who believe in a government of laws, not of men, the majority's approach is deeply disheartening. ... Five lawyers have closed the debate and enacted their own vision of marriage as a matter of constitutional law. Stealing this issue from the people will for many cast a cloud over same-sex marriage, making a dramatic social change that much more difficult to accept.

If you are among the many Americans — of whatever sexual orientation — who favor expanding same-sex marriage, by all means celebrate today's decision. Celebrate the achievement of a desired goal. Celebrate the opportunity for a new expression of commitment to a partner. Celebrate the availability of new benefits. But do not celebrate the Constitution. It had nothing to do with it.2
Justice Thomas characterized the decision even more starkly:
The Court's decision today is at odds not only with the Constitution, but with the principles upon which our Nation was built. Since well before 1787, liberty has been understood as freedom from government action, not entitlement to government benefits. The Framers created our Constitution to preserve that understanding of liberty. Yet the majority invokes our Constitution in the name of a 'liberty' that the Framers would not have recognized, to the detriment of the liberty they sought to protect.3
Alito and Scalia spoke in similarly harsh terms. It is a fact that when the question of defining marriage was put to a vote, natural marriage was winning handily. Thirty of the fifty states passed Constitutional amendments reserving marriage to one man and one woman by an average margin of 68%.4 Only the state of Minnesota's vote in 2012 failed to gain a majority of the votes required to pass the amendment. In most of these states, the vote was struck down by judges, usurping the will of the electorate.

Of course it is not always true that the majority has a correct view of the rights of others. The history of slavery in our country shows this. However, it is also not true that Supreme Court decisions are always a corrective as the Dred Scott, Buck v. Bell, and Roe v. Wade decisions also show. Righteous indignation at a court that decides a case because of personal ideology instead of the limited power the Constitution affords the Federal government should be applauded.

As Scalia commented, "Today's decree says that my Ruler, and the Ruler of 320 million Americans coast-to-coast, is a majority of the nine lawyers on the Supreme Court."5 The United States was never to be an Oligarchy. Christians, who were winning democratically in the majority of states, had their voice and the opportunity of democracy stripped from them through judiciary fiat.

3.The Obergefell Decision Ignores Natural Law

Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, the Obergefell decision is wrong because it violates the basis of marriage that may be found in natural law itself. Natural Law has been recognized as the foundation of our entire system of government since Jefferson penned his famous words in the Declaration of Independence. Just as one can look to the nature of human beings to know all are of equal worth, so one may look to nature to understand that marriage transcends government sanction. Marriage has a biological component of producing children and this makes the institution different than either societal creations or societal conventions.6

Our government may not be a theocracy, but it must recognize natural law to be considered just. Marriage is the only institution in human history that has been recognized as the proper institution for producing and rearing children. We do not allow children to be produced in government hatcheries. We do not encourage parents to abandon their children to government agencies. We encourage children to be brought up in stable homes and we expect biological parents to shoulder the responsibility of rearing their children. That's what deadbeat dad laws are all about.

Nature dictates that every child has a biological mother and a biological father. Every. Single. One. Because of this, there is a responsibility the parents bear when creating a new life. Codifying homosexual unions either denies the child's right to a legally recognized mother and father or it separates the child from the parents completely, assuming biology has no bearing at all on what constitutes a parent.

The Obergefell decision degrades marriage by diminishing it from its recognized role across societies as the primary institution for creating and rearing children. It purposely cleaves the procreative aspect of marriage since there is no way any homosexual union could ever produce a child. This is a clear and compelling difference between natural marriage and homosexual unions. The nature of the two unions is different. As Francis J. Beckwith explains:
The argument against same-sex marriage is based on the nature of human persons as gendered beings who have a purpose that is derived from that nature. That is to say, male-gendered human persons are meant for coupling with female-gendered human persons, even if their coupling does not result in procreation. This argument is not based on a human person's current function, ability, or desire, each of which could be inconsistent with how human persons ought to be by nature. For example, a person who is blind is lacking something physically, though he or she is still a human person who by nature ought to be seeing. In the same way, a sterile, aged, or willingly childless person is still a gendered human person whose purpose for marital union (if he or she does not have the gift of celibacy) can be consummated only by one-flesh communion with someone of the opposite gender. This remains true even if he or she has desires that are contrary to what he or she ought to desire by nature.7
Martin Luther King, in his famous "Letter from the Birmingham Jail" explained the difference between a just and an unjust law:
How does one determine whether a law is just or unjust? A just law is a man-made code that squares with the moral law or the law of God. An unjust law is a code that is out of harmony with the moral law. To put it in the terms of St. Thomas Aquinas: An unjust law is a human law that is not rooted in eternal law and natural law. Any law that uplifts human personality is just. Any law that degrades human personality is unjust. 8
If the Obergefell decision shows that it is neither rooted in eternal law nor natural law, then it should be opposed on grounds that the law has no basis for being just. Christians can dismiss the charge we are trying to establish a theocracy as unfounded. The grievance against this decision is grounded in a more fundamental premise than that.


1. Licona, Michael. "Chris Armer commented on my earlier post." Facebook. Facebook, 1 July 2015. 03 July 2015.
2. Soergel, Andrew. "9 Need-to-Know Quotes From the Obergefell v. Hodges Opinions." US News. U.S.News & World Report, 26 June 2015. Web. 03 July 2015.
3. Soergel, 2015.
4. See the statistics provided at "List of Former U.S. State Constitutional Amendments Banning Same-sex Unions by Type." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 2 July 2015. Web. 03 July 2015.
5. Soergel, 2015.
6. For the distinctions of each of these, see "Can Governments Define Marriage?" at
7. Beckwith, Francis J. "Wedding Bell Blues: Understanding the Same-Sex Marriage Debate." Christian Research Institute. Christian Research Institute, 22 Apr. 2009. Web. 03 July 2015.
8. Esposito, Lenny. "Martin Luther King's Letter from the Birmingham Jail." Come Reason's Apologetics Notes. Come Reason Ministries, 17 Jan. 2011. Web. 03 July 2015.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

How to Debate Same-Sex Marriage After SCOTUS

This afternoon, I had a mini debate on Twitter with a gentleman about same-sex marriage. I wanted to reproduce it because it was a good and respectful dialogue; these are the kinds of conversations that help clarify Christian beliefs and positions to those who may not be familiar with all the reasons why so many are deeply concerned about the SCOTUS decision to redefine marriage.

To set up the conversation, I had tweeted an article entitled, Labeling peaceful proponents of traditional marriage “religious extremists” is as misleading as it is mean-spirited. That lead to Chip's first comment:
ChipSalonna: Labeling it "traditional marriage" is as funny as it is misleading.

Comereason: No. Marriage has been traditionally recognized as one thing for all of human civilization...
However, I use the term natural marriage because there a biological component involved as well.

ChipSalonna: Riiiight. Ever hear of Mormons? Or Muslims? Or Solomon?

Comereason: Yes, I have. So?
Can I ask you a question? How many wives did a Mormon or a Muslim or Solomon need to take before he was considered married?

ChipSalonna: After the first wife, how many more wives did a Mormon or Muslim have to take before they weren't considered married anymore?

Comereason: You make my point. The reference to traditional marriage is not a reference to NUMBER, but to the TYPE of union. 1 man, 1 woman..
2,000 years of western civilization is enough to claim something is tradition(al). Still, natural marriage a better descriptor.

ChipSalonna: So, you're ok with polygamy/polyamory? I find it hard to imagine that's true but I can't wait to see where this goes.

Comereason: No, I'm not Ok with it. It is a deviant form of marriage, a distortion of the ideal. But it is a kind of marriage.

ChipSalonna: "Deviant". But "traditional". At least polygamy has THAT going for it.

Comereason: None of this is relevant to whether the union of two people of the same sex should be called a marriage.

ChipSalonna: See my other tweet w/link to Wikipedia.

Comereason: It's easy to Google things and Wikipedia is notoriously inept at being factual in hot button issues.
For example, Rome had marriage laws spelled out in the patria potestas, but those laws did not apply in same sex issues.
I agree that Greece, China, and even parts of India today have homosexual relationships. No one called it marriage, though.

ChipSalonna: As you wish. We call it "marriage" now.

Comereason: Do you have a Social Security number?

ChipSalonna: Rhetorical. What's your point?

Comereason: How many Social Security numbers should each person in the U.S. have?

ChipSalonna: [Waiting...]

Comereason: The IRS reports that there are many thousands of people who are issued multiple SS#'s. It doesn't make any of those NOT a SS#.
Further, you SHOULD only have ONE. But they are all real SS#s. What you are trying to argue is that because there have been...
...multiple SS#s in the past, its OK to call a driver's license a SS#. Both are identification, both issued by the govt.
There are so many similarities, who cares about the little differences?

ChipSalonna: I get the point with your analogy. And I've already accepted that you view 1MnW as "deviant" but "traditional". The *big*...
...difference is that we're talking people &their feelings & freedoms, not numbers or pieces of paper. I assume that...
...ultimately you view SSM as bad b/c God says so. So, here's a hypothetical for you. If God came to you and said "Hey,...
...Lenny, the Bible had a few mistakes with the homo stuff. It's really ok for them to get married." Would you continue to...
...make the "secular" arguments you're making now?

Comereason: You're absolutely right that this isn't about pieces of paper but about people. We can agree on that.
My argument isn't just procedural. I'm concerned about the people involved. Do you know why Govt got involved w/marriage at all?
Or (to be more specific) why they continue to be involved?

ChipSalonna: I'll come back to your question. But would you abandon your arguments given God's "retraction"?

Comereason: Actually, the Bible really doesn't say anything about same sex unions. If we were discussing a purely civil contract...
...such as CA's civil unions, I wouldn't be fighting it--and I didn't when it was passed. Marriage is different, though.

ChipSalonna: So, you consider your arguments to be *purely* secular? You don't trace any anti-SSM thoughts back to God? Truly curious here.

Comereason: No. I believe all truth is God's truth and he designed the world to run a certain way. We get a clearer picture from the Bible.
But I believe I have arguments that can be accepted even if one doesn't hold to the Bible as a moral principle....
... Marriage has a consistent basis across all cultures and all faiths. Thus I can offer secular arguments.

ChipSalonna: Ok, so in my hypothetical, if God "clarified" the issue, you'd have to say your secular arguments were somehow wrong. Yes?
(Not a trap. Just getting a clear picture.)

Comereason: I don't doubt your sincerity. I'm just trying to understand. I have a hard time seeing how that would be possible, though...
Human beings are created in a specific way. God would be saying something that argues against his created order.
The only institution that all of humanity has recognized as proper to creating and rearing children is the family. That's it.
The primary reason Govt gets involved is for the welfare of the child. That's why deadbeat dad laws are on the books....
The Govt recognizes marriages because it then knows who he responsible parents are for the child, unless otherwise stated.

ChipSalonna: Except that you said biblical teaching isn't clear on the marriage issue.

Comereason: I said God didn't explicitly say "no same sex unions." The Bible is clear on sexual activity between those of the same sex.

ChipSalonna: So, it seems to matter little (from a secular point of view) whether we're talking about civil unions, marriage or shacking up.

Comereason: I don't gamble and I don't drink but I'm not pressing for prohibition.
I don't condone shacking up, but there should be no law against it.
There's a difference between tolerating an action and changing the definition of an existing institution.

ChipSalonna: I meant civil unions, marriage or shacking up w.r.t SSC.

Comereason: Right. All of those are in a different category from marriage.
But it hurts kids. It takes two people to create them, yet they're denied the right to have even a chance at a mom & dad.

ChipSalonna: Gotta run. It's been fun. I'm sure we can have Round 2 later.

Comereason: I really appreciate the respectful tone, Chip! That's why I'm willing to converse. Thanks for that.

I want to again thank Chip Salonna for his respect and genuine sincerity in trying to at least understand my positon. he is to be complimented for being a gentleman.

Friday, June 26, 2015

C.S. Lewis on the Drive for Sexual Happiness

For today, in the wake of the expected but still tragic Supreme Court ruling regarding homosexual unions, I offer two C.S. Lewis quotes. The first, taken from God in the Dock, is Lewis’ expounding on our drive for the erotic concept of love above all else. He was concerned with the rise in divorce rates and the ever-present excuse that people "deserve to be happy." Yet, by reducing love to erotic passion, it paved the way for this morning’s decision by the Court. Lewis explains:
If we establish a "right to (sexual) happiness" which super­sedes all the ordinary rules of behaviour, we do so not because of what our passion shows itself to be in experience but because of what it professes to be while we are in the grip of it. Hence, while the bad behaviour is real and works miser­ies and degradations, the happiness which was the object of the behaviour turns out again and again to be illusory.1
Such a view coincides with the plans of the Devil, who seeks to corrupt and usurp the institution of marriage and the blessings it holds. In his famous The Screwtape Letters, Lewis in the voice of the demon Screwtape, explains to his young apprentice that the forces of evil cannot create pleasures in and of themselves. Thus it has always been the objective of the Evil One to twist and malign marriage until it becomes something unrecognizable:
Never forget that when we are dealing with any pleasure in its healthy and normal and satisfy­ing form, we are, in a sense, on the Enemy's ground. I know we have won many a soul through pleasure. All the same, it is His invention, not OURS. He made the pleasures: all our research so far has not enabled us to produce one. All we can do is to encourage the humans to take the plea­sures which our Enemy has produced, at times, or in ways, or in degrees, which He has forbidden. Hence we always try to work away from the natural condition of any plea­sure to that in which it is least natural, least redolent of its Maker, and least pleasurable. An ever-increasing craving for an ever-diminishing pleasure is the formula. It is more certain; and it's better style. To get the man's soul and give him nothing in return—that is what really gladdens our Father's heart.2
My country has now crossed a threshold where we have taken the natural good that is marriage and shaped into that in which it is least natural and least redolent of its Maker.


1. Lewis, C. S. God in the Dock: Essays on Theology. Cambridge: Eerdman’s, 1970. Print. 351.
2. Lewis, C. S. "The Screwtape Letters." The Complete C.S. Lewis Signature Classics. San Francisco, CA: HarperSanFrancisco, 2002. Print. 210.
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