Blog Archive

Followers

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 www.comereason.org Web site articles, we hope to give readers points to reflect on concerning topics of the day.

Powered by Blogger.
Showing posts with label homosexuality. Show all posts
Showing posts with label homosexuality. Show all posts

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Natural Marriage: Crucial to the Survival of a Culture

The same-sex marriage debate continues to rage and many of its proponents paint the conflict in individual terms. They ask, "How could you deny two people who love one another the same chance at happiness as anyone else?" They argue that marriage is based on a legal understanding of union, and if one were to change the laws in a state or country, it would simply open the door for more people to be happy.1 However, this is a woefully simplistic view of both society and the law. Those who argue for maintaining a natural view of marriage are not trying to stifle anyone's happiness; they are seeking to guard our society from the dangers that accompany any weakening of the understanding of marriage.

When one claims that "marriage is the building block of society" it's important to understand just what this means. The first communal unit in human history was the family. Families grew into tribes, tribes grew to communities, and communities grew to cities, states, and nations. But the core relational unit that binds all these relationships together is the family.2 This means that the family is the building block of society. Without a man and a woman joining together and rearing children, a society simply cannot survive.

The conclusion that the natural union of a man and a woman is at the basis of continuing our civilization is not mine alone. Paul Nathanson is a sociologist, a scholar, and a homosexual. However, he voices grave reservations about the concept of homosexual marriage. Nathanson has identifies at least five functions that marriage serves and are functions that every culture must have in order to survive and thrive. They are:
  • Foster the bonding between men and women
  • Foster the birth and rearing of children
  • Foster the bonding between men and children
  • Foster some form of healthy masculine identity
  • Foster the transformation of adolescents into sexually responsible adults 3
Note that Nathanson considers these points critical to the continued survival of any culture. He continues "Because heterosexuality is directly related to both reproduction and survival, ... every human society[y] has had to promote it actively . ... Heterosexuality is always fostered by a cultural norm" that limits marriage to unions of men and women. He adds that people "are wrong in assuming that any society can do without it." 4

Nathanson has partnered with fellow Canadian scholar Katherine K. Young to author "Marriage a la mode: Answering the Advocates of Gay Marriage." There, Young and Nathanson put forth an excellent case why heterosexual marriage needs to be not only protected but encouraged by society in order for the society to survive. They state:
Although no particular culture is genetically encoded, the ability and need to create culture is genetically encoded. We are equipped and even driven by nature, paradoxically, to be cultural beings… culture is not a superficial veneer on something more primitive and basic, in short, but a defining and fundamental feature of human existence.

Because heterosexuality is directly related to both reproduction and survival, and because it involves much more than copulation every human society has had to promote it actively (although some have allowed homosexuality in specific instances.)"
Young and Nathanson then conclude, "Heterosexuality is always fostered as a cultural norm, in other words not merely allowed as one 'lifestyle choice' among many"5 (emphasis added.)

References

1. "Getting married means that things are legal, and you are protected by the law" stated Anne Kester when asked about her relationship that was legally recognized in the Netherlands. The quote appears in the Nov. 20, 2003 Christian Science Monitor http://www.csmonitor.com/2003/1120/p14s03-woeu.html
2. For one example see _Evolution of Human Societies_ by Allen W. Johnson and Timothy Earl
Stanford Univ. Pr; 2nd edition (November 2000)
3. Nathanson, Paul as quoted in "Questions and Answers: What's Wrong With Letting Same-Sex Couples 'Marry?'" by Peter Sprigg
http://www.frc.org/index.cfm?i=IF03H01&f=WU03L06
4. Ibid.
5. Young, Katherine K. and Paul Nathanson "Marriage a la mode: Answering the Advocates of Gay Marriage"
http://www.marriageinstitute.ca/images/mmmode.pdf Sept. 29, 2003

Friday, May 02, 2014

Beware the Thought Police Against Religion!

Although I'm considered an early-adopter on the technology front, I still subscribe to the newspaper and read it every day at breakfast. A story in this morning's Los Angeles Times almost made me spill my cereal. The Public Health Director for the city of Pasadena, Eric Walsh, was placed on administrative leave by city officials because the officials learned of "controversial statements" Walsh had made about evolution and homosexuality online.


It seems that Walsh, who also serves as a minister in the Seventh-Day Adventist church, has some prior sermons that speak against homosexuality as a sin and evolution "the religion of Satan" that are available to watch on YouTube. That was supposedly too much for a city official to believe and the city said they needed "to assess the impact those statements might have on his ability to effectively lead the city's Public Health Department." Forget the fact that Walsh has been effective at leading the department, even providing needed services to those in the community diagnosed with AIDS.

Of course, Walsh is only the latest in an increasingly long line of people who either have or are in danger of losing their jobs because their beliefs were not considered politically correct. Mozilla Corporation fired its CEO Brendan Eich not for anything he said, but simply because he gave money to support a proposition that the majority of California voters favored—and he did so six years before the dismissal. Frank Turek's consulting contracts with both Bank of America and Cisco Systems were terminated because of his pro-natural marriage views. And of course the whole Phil Robertson fiasco had A&E networks firing then backstepping quickly as they were threatened by the Robertson family with losing their cash cow entirely.

When did the First Amendment Require an Asterisk?

This whole idea deeply concerns me. Even the NBA's actions against Donald Sterling are troubling. Lest this be taken out of context, let me say that I find Sterling's comments repugnant. Most who knew the movers and shakers in L.A. will tell you that Sterling's racism was no secret. He's a pig. But, should a pig be denied their business when his comments were made in the privacy of his own home? Should those who disagree with the politically correct view of homosexuality or evolution when their track record shows they are more than capable of executing their positions effectively? When did the First Amendment require an asterisk linked to a disclaimer?

The concept of freedom of speech has been misunderstood by people today, partly because people are ignorant of the historical roots of the concept and partly because our society has been so awash in free speech that no one knows what the alternative looks like. In the united States, our Constitutional protection of freedom of speech is an outgrowth of John Locke's philosophy. His book On Liberty makes a great argument for even why opinions that are considered wrong need to be open and accessible:
Society can and does execute its own mandates: and if it issues wrong mandates instead of right, or any mandates at all in things with which it ought not to meddle, it practises a social tyranny more formidable than many kinds of political oppression, since, though not usually upheld by such extreme penalties, it leaves fewer means of escape, penetrating much more deeply into the details of life, and enslaving the soul itself. Protection, therefore, against the tyranny of the magistrate is not enough; there needs protection also against the tyranny of the prevailing opinion and feeling; against the tendency of society to impose, by other means than civil penalties, its own ideas and practices as rules of conduct on those who dissent from them; to fetter the development, and, if possible, prevent the formation, of any individuality not in harmony with its ways, and compel all characters to fashion themselves upon the model of its own. There is a limit to the legitimate interference of collective opinion with individual independence; and to find that limit, and maintain it against encroachment, is as indispensable to a good condition of human affairs, as protection against political despotism (emphasis added).[1]
Locke is right in this. Free speech means more than "protection against the tyranny of the magistrate." It also means keeping ideas other than the politically correct ones available without the threat of loss on wages. It means weighing the ideas and views of diverse opinions in a thoughtful manner, but always with a goal of finding truth, not silencing dissent.

Perhaps the most poignant comment came from @naughtnorris on Twitter. "Maybe Dr. Eric Walsh shouldn't preach personal beliefs on his own time. Maybe he shouldn't even have his own beliefs & he should have yours."

This is to what our culture has sunk.

References

1. Locke, John. On Liberty. The University of Adelaide Library.
http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/m/mill/john_stuart/m645o/chapter1.html

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Three Problems with the World Vision Decision

"It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that is not tolerated even among pagans, for a man has his father's wife."  1 Cor. 5:1

Yesterday's announcement by president Richard Stearns that World Vision will "allow a Christian in a legal same-sex marriage to be employed" at the ministry sent immediate shock waves through the Evangelical community. World Vision has required all of its employees to not only assent to a statement of faith, but also to abide by the ministry's Standards of Conduct Policy, which forbids any employee from participating in actions such as sex outside of marriage. Thus, making such an allowance for united homosexuals confused many supporters as it seemed completely out of step with World Vision policy.

In the official announcement, the company claimed to not be compromising their position. It reads:
Since World Vision is a multi-denominational organization that welcomes employees from more than 50 denominations, and since a number of these denominations in recent years have sanctioned same-sex marriage for Christians, the board—in keeping with our practice of deferring to church authority in the lives of our staff, and desiring to treat all of our employees equally—chose to adjust our policy. Thus, the board has modified our Employee Standards of Conduct to allow a Christian in a legal same-sex marriage to be employed at World Vision.

I want to be clear that we have not endorsed same-sex marriage, but we have chosen to defer to the authority of local churches on this issue. We have chosen not to exclude someone from employment at World Vision U.S. on this issue alone."
The notice also justified the policy change by stating "our board of directors is recognized as one of the leaders among Christian organizations in the U.S. It includes deeply spiritual and wise believers, among them several pastors, a seminary president, and a professor of theology." Interestingly, there is a biblical parallel here in the early church at Corinth. The Corinthian church also struggled with divisive theological battles. They also allowed people who practiced what the Bible clearly labeled as sexual sin within their ranks, and they also claimed themselves as wise. When addressing each of these issues in the epistle of 1 Corinthians, the Apostle Paul took the church to task. "We are fools for Christ's sake, but you are wise in Christ. We are weak, but you are strong. You are held in honor, but we in disrepute… When reviled, we bless; when persecuted, we endure; when slandered, we entreat. We have become, and are still, like the scum of the world, the refuse of all things."

World Vision's Failed Foresight

Of course, World Vision is trying to claim that it is remaining neutral on issues where good Christians disagree. Note the claim, "I want to be clear that we have not endorsed same-sex marriage, but we have chosen to defer to the authority of local churches on this issue." My response is that it is impossible to claim neutrality by implementing such a policy. Here are some reasons why:

First, World Vision, in recognizing same-sex "marriage" while keeping their abstinence provision has made a theological judgment: they have concluded that marriage is not something designed by God, but is something that can be redefined in whatever way some denomination's whims take it. As I've stated before, natural marriage can be easily seen in the fact that men and women's bodies couple in a unique way and the natural result of that coupling is offspring. The Bible says "the two shall become one flesh" and that is exactly what happens if there is nothing to impede nature. Realize, there is no institution other than marriage to properly bring children into this world. None. However, by equating same-sex unions to marriage, World Vision says biology, God's design for family, and the right of a child to have a mother and a father don't really matter. Marriage is what a partner denomination says it is.

Secondly, by maintaining the abstinence component of the Employee Standard of Conduct, World Vision sends a strong message that individuals who violate the Bible's prohibition on premarital sex are committing a greater sin than those practicing homosexual intercourse on a consistent basis. Both acts are condemned in the Bible, but one must assume that same-sex couples who went through a ceremony have the intent to repeatedly engage in sexual immorality. There is no repentance in such instances, and it is clear that World Vision therefore is making a theological claim that there is then no sin.

Lastly, I understand that different denominations hold to different views on a variety of theological topics. However, no Christian denomination teaches that one is in habitual sin by holding to the perseverance of the saints or whether baptism should be full-immersion only. We recognize that Christians will differ on these issues. Habitual sexual sin, though, is clearly taught to be a factor in one's salvation. Paul warns the Corinthians "Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God." So, deferring to denominations on matters of disagreement is fine, but not where the action bears on what it means to be a Christian.

"But you yourselves wrong and defraud—even your own brothers!" 1 Cor. 6:8

Spears states that part of the reason for the policy change is to keep them focused on their mission. "The board and I wanted to prevent this divisive issue from tearing World Vision apart and potentially crippling our ability to accomplish our vital kingdom mission of loving and serving the poorest of the poor in the name of Christ." The Corinthian church was also successful. They were "not lacking in any gift" (1:7) and were even able to contribute to the collection Paul was taking up for the Christians suffering in Jerusalem. But, their ministry and abilities were considered secondary to their obedience. He says by allowing such immorality go unchallenged they Corinthians are harming the body of Christ.

Many Christians today have been taking a live and let live approach to same-sex unions. "I may believe that homosexuality is wrong, but I don't want to judge others." Such a view is wrong. We are called to be stewards of one another first, and our ministry to the outside world is secondary. Homosexuality is physically dangerous, and as Paul has stressed, it is spiritually deadly. World Vision seems to have focused so much on its ministry to the world that it has gone blind to its ministry to the church.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Does Criticism of Homosexuality Foster High Suicide Rates?

Last week, the Supreme Court in Canada unanimously  struck down many of that nation's laws against prostitution. The ruling wasn't because the laws ran afoul of legal precedents, but was because the court held that by making prostitution clandestine, the laws are "imposing dangerous conditions" (emphasis original) to prostitutes to be vulnerable to violence and therefore violates the basic values that Canada holds.


This kind of reasoning is, of course, insanity. Prostitution is illegal because it causes harm to people and communities. For example, it's widely known that men who visit prostitutes catch sexually transmitted diseases like gonorrhea, herpes, or AIDS. They will then go home and sleep with their wives, infecting them. Young girls who are displaced are more at risk for becoming entrapped in prostitution as a legally available service creates a need for more and more sex workers. Making prostitution legal doesn't rid girls of danger; it will more likely make it worse.

However, prostitution isn't the only area where such reasoning exists, even in the church. Homosexuality is another area where confusion has prevailed. On the same day the Canadian court delivered its ruling, Youth Pastor Tyler Smither wrote a blog piece entitled What You Believe About Homosexuality Doesn't Matter. After noting that there is strong theological debate on the issue, Smither notes that 30% of kids who identify as homosexual commit suicide. He then writes, "It does not matter if you think homosexuality is a sin, or if you think it is simply another expression of human love. It doesn't matter. Why doesn't it matter? Because people are dying. Kids are literally killing themselves because they are so tired of being rejected and dehumanized that they feel their only option left is to end their life." Smither then concludes that we should keep our opinions about the rightness or wrongness of homosexuality to ourselves, as it's the morally responsible thing to do. This kind of thinking is well-meaning but just as mistaken as Canada's court decision.

First, it isn't at all clear that "telling a gay kid that you love him and you don't want him to die" will solve this problem. In fact, it may not curb the problem at all. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control has published data showing that men who have sex with men have higher rates of substance abuse, engage in high risk sexual practices, and up to 44% experience domestic violence from within their same-sex relationship. So, it doesn't follow that suicide rates are higher than normal simply because others are criticizing their behavior.

The rise in suicide isn't confined to only young homosexuals either. The U.S. National Library on Medicine published a report detailing the high rates of suicide among alcoholics. High school dropouts are also at a higher risk. Tellingly, transsexuals have the same suicide rate as the homosexual kids Smither worries about even after they have completed their surgeries and their transition! It's obvious that the proposed cure isn't working there.

I agree that the loss of life we see for young homosexual kids is abhorrent. I agree with Smither that we should do everything we can to save as many kids as possible. But accepting the person is not the same thing as giving homosexual behavior a free pass, any more than saving young girls caught up in the sex industry means abolishing prostitution laws.  We must try to understand and be compassionate, but not excuse their proclivity to same-sex encounters. Otherwise we will be widening a door that destroys one out of three human beings, which isn't at all a moral thing to do.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Phil Robertson, Gay Marriage, and Equality Laws

Phil Robertson's remarks in GQ magazine on homosexual sex have caused quite a commotion, so much so that the Duck Dynasty star has been placed on indefinite suspension from his reality show by A&E. But is such a suspension fair? How does this comport with recent legal rulings against discrimination?

If we look at recent court decisions, the rulings have been clear: corporations cannot deny service or discriminate against individuals who use their services simply because the corporation has taken a principled stance on the topic of homosexuality. Just this month Colorado Judge Robert Spenser held that baker Jack Phillips was violating Colorado's anti-discrimination laws by denying to bake a wedding cake for a homosexual couple. Spenser decided that even though Phillips was earnest in his beliefs that homosexual marriages are wrong, his view "fails to take into account the cost to society and the hurt caused to persons who are denied service simply because of who they are" (emphasis added).[1]

Interestingly, Bosson rejected the claim that this law should be weighed against the standard of strict scrutiny and narrow definition to which other laws that limit religious liberty are held.  Bosson said that the law in question is valid because it "is both neutral and of general applicability… therefore Respondents are not free to ignore its restrictions even though it may incidentally conflict with their religiously-driven conduct."[2]

Similarly, the New Mexico Supreme Court ruled against Elane Huguenin and her wedding photography business for failing to violate her conviction and photograph a same-sex commitment ceremony. In his concurring opinion, New Mexico Justice Richard Bosson wrote that the Huguenins "are compelled by law to compromise the very religious beliefs that inspire their lives." Bosson continued, "In the smaller, more focused world of the marketplace, of commerce, of public accommodation, the Huguenins have to channel their conduct, not their beliefs, so as to leave space for other Americans who believe something different" (emphasis added).

So, the law is clear. A corporation cannot discriminate against a person or persons when the deeply held beliefs of that corporation conflict with the views of those who use its services. Even if artistic merit is involved, the decisions above seem to reach beyond the specific cases and attempt to make a moral statement that corporations must bow to the beliefs of the individual. And the decisions say that this is the case because there is a compelling interest to seek equality, that is to not discriminate against individuals because of who they are. The decisions make a moral claim that equality for all supersedes corporate positions.

So tell me why is Phil Robertson's suspension from the Duck Dynasty for being simply who he is and stating his beliefs considered OK? Will the ACLU come to his aid like it did the homosexual couple in Colorado? Isn't it just as discriminatory to deny Robertson his ability to make a living on his show just because he believes something different than the A&E executives do as it is to deny a homosexual couple a wedding cake because one does not believe in homosexual marriage? Is this an example of "neutral in applicability", or is it an example of only forcing a single belief—the one that says homosexual relations are OK—onto the public sphere? Does Robertson being an employee make a difference? If Robertson was suspended because he supported homosexual marriage and the company didn't, would there be any concern?

In all, one shouldn't be surprised that moral stances can be so unevenly applied in a single direction. The double-standard simply highlights what we have known for a while. The homosexual lobby has no interest in equality. It simply wants to force itself upon everyone and woe to those who offer any type of criticism. Discrimination against critics is not only allowed but mandatory.

References

1. Initial Decision: Charlie Craig and David Mullins v. Masterpiece Cakeshop Inc & Anor CR 2013-0008, PDF 266.58kb, 06 DEC 13

https://www.aclu.org/sites/default/files/assets/initial_decision_case_no._cr_2013-0008.pdf

2. Ibid.




Monday, June 24, 2013

Supreme Court Decisions Cannot Define Morality

Many people are anxiously awaiting the United States Supreme Court Decisions on the constitutionality of California's Proposition 8 and the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). Many supporters of same-sex marriage think that once the Court rules on the issue, they will be vindicated and anyone who views SSM as either a moral violation or a biological impossibility will be proven wrong. But the Supreme Court wasn't designed to provide good answers to either morality or biology. For a clear example of that, we need only look to the fate of Carrie Buck.


According to the Encyclopedia of Virginia, Buck was born in Charlottesville in 1906. Her father died when she was very young. When she was three her mother was committed to the Virginia State Colony for Epileptics and Feeble-Minded, mostly on the basis of her ongoing promiscuity.1 Buck then lived with a foster family, developing normally until she became pregnant at the age of 16. Ignoring Buck's claims that she was raped by their nephew, her foster family foisted the charge of promiscuity and feeble-mindedness on Buck and had her likewise committed.

About this time, the state of Virginia had recently passed a law that "the state could sterilize anyone found to be incompetent because of alcoholism, epilepsy, feeblemindedness, insanity, or other factors." The lawmakers knew their legislation was a constitutional gamble. As the Encyclopedia puts it:
"Behind the law was the eugenic assumption that these traits were hereditary and that sexual sterilization could thus prevent their transmission. Uncertain that the new law could withstand a constitutional challenge, the framers and supporters of the law arranged to test it in court. They chose Buck in the belief that she had inherited her feeblemindedness from her mother and that her daughter showed signs of slow mental development as well."2
Buck's forced sterilization worked its way up Virginia's appellate courts until she appeared before the U.S. Supreme Court in April of 1927. On May 2 of that year, Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., speaking on behalf of an 8-1 majority ruled that the forced sterilization law was constitutional. In the majority opinion Holmes famously wrote:
"It is better for all the world, if instead of waiting to execute degenerate offspring for crime, or to let them starve for their imbecility, society can prevent those who are manifestly unfit from continuing their kind. The principle that sustains compulsory vaccination is broad enough to cover cutting the Fallopian tubes. Jacobson v. Massachusetts, 197 U.S. 11. Three generations of imbeciles are enough."3
By all accounts Holmes was a brilliant U.S. Supreme Court Justice. He served for almost thirty years and is considered a scholar "who, more than any other individual, shaped the law of the 20th century" according to biographer Albert W. Alschuler.4 But as a legal scholar, Holmes was neither a theologian nor a biologist. He was neither a philosopher nor a geneticist. So, how could that Court be the last word morally for a question that has at its basis what being human means?

Of course, the pro-eugenics crowd testified with their experts as to Carrie's diagnosis. The Court's decision, though, did not turn on whether Carrie Buck's diagnosis was accurate, even though Holmes believed it was.  In the majority opinion he wrote, "There can be no doubt that so far as procedure is concerned the rights of the patient are most carefully considered, and as every step in this case was taken in scrupulous compliance with the statute and after months of observation, there is no doubt that in that respect the plaintiff in error has had due process of law. The attack is not upon the procedure but upon the substantive law"5 (emphasis added).

Holmes was a lawyer; as such he ruled on the legality of the laws set before him. In order to declare eugenics acceptable, the justices would have to reason on legal grounds. Therefore, the majority agreed that "compulsory vaccination is broad enough to cover cutting the Fallopian tubes." Eight Supreme Court Justices had to change the definition of what a vaccination is in order to legally include forced sterilization. Only then could eugenics practices gain traction. But in so doing the Court made the claim that the state rather than God can decide how human reproduction should work in the lives of certain individuals.

In fact, Aubrey Strode, the attorney arguing on behalf of Virginia made this explicit. According to Scott Polirstok:
"Strode argued that a feebleminded individual will benefit from having his/her lost liberty ‘restored' following a sterilization procedure. In other words, a feebleminded individual who had not as yet been sterilized, did not have any liberty as a sexual being because of the fear of producing children who would be mentally deficient. However once sterilized, the individual and society could be free of the fear of producing defective children and hence liberty would be ‘restored'."6
Holmes' decision in this case was neither morally upright nor biologically accurate. Today we see such a decision as abhorrent, and rightfully so. But it was always abhorrent, even when the court ruled that it was legal and a decision that was "better for the world" or that the individuals would be "restored" to sexual liberty. It didn't matter that eight very intelligent and well-schooled justices saw fit to allow such atrocities to American citizens. They were wrong and their ruling did not make forced sterilizations moral.

When we try to claim that simply because something is legal that makes it moral, we fall victim to a type of pragmatic moral relativism that will blow to and fro with the whims of the culture. But that's not what morality is. Real moral values and duties don't change. They are objective, based in God and who we are as human beings. The circumstances of how those values and duties play out may differ, but the principles remain unchanged. So, don't think that any court decision means the death knell for morality.

Carrie Buck was forcibly sterilized in 1927 and Virginia perpetrated the same cruelty on over 8,300 others for nearly fifty years. Nationally, the number of forced sterilizations is estimated at 60,0007 and sterilizations continued through most of the 1970's. Many of the victims are still alive and seek reparations from the state. And if you're wondering, the Buck v. Bell decision has never been overturned. Does that make it the right thing to do?

References

1. Smith, J. David and the Dictionary of Virginia Biography. "Carrie Elizabeth Buck (1906–1983)." Encyclopedia Virginia. Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, 31 May. 2013. Web. 24 Jun. 2013.<http://encyclopediavirginia.org/Buck_Carrie_Elizabeth_1906-1983>
2. Ibid.
3. Russell, Thomas D. "BUCK v. BELL, Superintendent of State Colony Epileptics and Feeble Minded, 274 U.S. 200 (1927)." American Legal History – Russell. 18 November 2009. , http://www.houseofrussell.com/legalhistory/alh/docs/buckvbell.html> Accessed June 24, 2013.
4. Alschuler, Albert W. Law Without Values: The Life, Work, and Legacy of Justice Holmes. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000). 1.
5. Russell. Ibid.
6. Polirstok, Scott. "Buck v. Bell: A Case Study" Binghamton Journal of History. Binghamton University. <http://www2.binghamton.edu/history/resources/journal-of-history/buck-vs-bell.html> Updated 6/3/2012. Accessed 6/24/2013
7. Stern, Alexandra Minna. Eugenic Nation: Faults and Frontiers of Better Breeding in Modern America. (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2005). 84.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Monkey Business: Stop Excusing Sexual Deviance

An article entitled "Face it: Monogamy is unnatural" was featured yesterday on the CNN site. Written by Meghan Laslocky, her thesis is that "a greater tolerance toward the human impulse to experience sexual variety is needed."[1] Laslocky bases this on the fact that "Biologically, we humans are animals. So it makes sense to look to the animal kingdom for clues as to what we are built for." She then throws out examples from the animal kingdom of how monogamy is a sham. "The evidence shows that monogamy is a rarity among mammals. Only 3% to 5% of all the mammal species on Earth 'practice any form of monogamy.' In fact, no mammal species has been proven to be truly monogamous."


She culminates her argument with a look at the biology of pair-bonding in prairie voles, a small rodent native to North America. Stating that hormones and receptors are the cause for such behavior, Laslocky concludes:
"Among humans, here's the rub: we have the chemicals and the receptors, but it varies from person to person how much we have. Based on brain wiring alone, inclination toward fidelity can vary dramatically from one individual to another. In other words, 'once a cheater, always a cheater,' might have as much to do with brain wiring as with a person's moral compass, upbringing or culture. "
I'm sure everyone who has walked in on their spouse in the act of infidelity is comforted by that fact.

Arguments like the one Laslocky proposes are not new. Many times I hear from homosexual advocates that homosexuality must be natural because zoologists have observed animals performing homosexual behavior in the wild. This type of reasoning is as preposterous as it is inconsistent. No one would say, "Chimps fling their feces and we are so close genetically we should, too." Or to take a more mundane example, it isn't uncommon for a host to be horrified when his or her pet dog mounts the leg of a guest. Even in the article, one image of elephant seals is accompanied with the note that males "protect harems of more than 100 females from other males thinking of moving into their territories." I'm sure such a "natural" relationship model will be not considered acceptable by women!

No, these appeals to the animal kingdom as a way to understand our sexual actions make one of two egregious errors. The first is they assume humans are slaves to our biology. While prairie voles may not be able to rise above their responses to chemical hormones, part of what it means to be human is to NOT react to our base stimuli. We don't want a man threatening to kill at the mere presence of another male. We don't want a person to simply take whomever he or she desires. We have this capacity for reason that makes us--let's choose this word wisely--civilized.

In fact, that's the argument that women's groups have relied on when talking about rape and provocative dress. It doesn't matter how it makes you feel, you don't have to act on it. So, to dismiss infidelity as people who are victims of biology opens up a much larger issue and gives sexual predators an out.

The second way these kinds of arguments err is by blurring actions and assuming animal motivations are the same as in humans. This anthropomorphizing animal behavior is a common plague in animal behavioral research. The case of Koko is a perfect example.

Koko is a famous gorilla who supposedly mastered over 1,000 signs and uses American Sign Language to communicate in complex sentences. However, as Steven Pinker in his book The Language Instinct documents, the handlers were interpreting actions as signs, interpreting one sign to mean something else, and basically superimposing what they wanted Koko's behavior to mean onto the ape's actions. [2] Similarly, no animals form homosexual relationships for pair-bonding. They auto-stimulate themselves with whatever they may find. That's why the dog mounts the guest's leg.

One thing not mentioned by proponents who liken human sexuality with animal behavior is acts of sexual gratification between species. Peter Singer writes that while visiting an orangutan refuge in Africa with a group, one of the women "was suddenly seized by a large male orangutan, his intentions made obvious by his erect penis. Fighting off so powerful an animal was not an option, but Galdikas (the refuge's director) called to her companion not to be concerned, because the orangutan would not harm her, and adding, as further reassurance, that ‘they have a very small penis.' As it happened, the orangutan lost interest before penetration took place."[3] Such a scenario is scary, but not as scary as Singer's conclusion. He says such an action is an example of why sex across species should "cease to be an offence to our status and dignity as human beings."[4]

Regardless of which error is committed, you can see how judging sexual actions by observing animal sexual behavior leads to dangerous consequences.  Human beings are not merely animals. We have minds and we have a moral compass. Bestiality is wrong. Rape is wrong. And excusing infidelity on the basis of biology is itself inexcusable.

References

1. Laslocky, Meghan. "Face it: Monogamy is unnatural." CNN.com. <http://edition.cnn.com/2013/06/21/opinion/laslocky-monogamy-marriage/index.html> Accessed 6/22/2013.

2. Pinker, Steven. The Language Instinct: How the Mind Creates Language.
(New York:William Morrow & Co. 1994). 345-347.

3. Singer, Peter. "Heavy Petting." Nerve, 2001. < http://www.utilitarianism.net/singer/by/2001----.htm > Accessed 6/22/2013

4. Ibid.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Why Are Christians So Obsessed with Homosexuality?

I've spent a lot of time on university campuses lately. I get to interact with students and hear what's on their minds when it comes to questions of faith in general and Christianity in particular. Nowadays, I expect that someone will raise the issue of homosexuality, particularly the debate over homosexual marriage as we talk. It's pretty much guaranteed to come up and many times it forms the whole of my discussion with the students. Because this is such a hot-button issue, I wanted to offer a couple of thoughts on the subject that could hopefully help others when their conversations shift this way.


Let's start off with one objection that I hear all the time: "Why are you Christians so obsessed with homosexuality?" You can see that even online, the question gets asked a lot. Just look here, here, and here for some examples. It is a common refrain I hear from students when I've been talking with them about the state of marriage.

Why are evangelical Christians so obsessed with homosexual acts? Is it because, as some have claimed, that Christians are secretly suppressing their own homosexual attractions? Well, no. Such an assertion is ridiculous on its face. The Gallup organization estimates that 3.5% of the U.S. population identifies as homosexual. Even if we double that stat, there would only be 7% of evangelicals who would make up the constituency that hold to this supposed secret homosexual desire. Such a group could never hold the political clout to pass the traditional marriage laws that passed with solid majorities in 32 states and the federal Defense of Marriage act. This is simply a fallacy (known as tu quoue) that ignores the biological and moral arguments that Christians offer about the topic. But then why are Christians so obsessed with homosexuality?

Here's the answer: we aren't.

You may be shocked at reading that. You may disagree and think I'm dishonest. You may say that all you hear is Christians opposing the right for same sex couples to marry. But believe me, the last thing I want to do when I walk onto a college campus is to talk about homosexuality. It's not in the forefront of my mind. I'd much rather talk about Jesus, what salvation by grace really means, how God wants all people to renounce their sin whatever that may be and follow Him because He has a better way.

Those are the things I would like to talk about, and that's what Christianity has done historically. We've reached out to the poor and homeless; most churches have ministries that help these people within their community. We have looked to help orphans and sent people on missionary projects. We work to help folks overcome alcohol addiction or drug abuse. All these areas have a long, vibrant history within Christianity which is reflected both in the many efforts and ministries of the local church and para-church organizations like The Salvation Army. How many churches have a homosexuality ministry? They are nearly non-existent.

Actually it is other people who keep bringing up the issue of homosexuality. Activists want to change the definition of marriage, and they want to require Christian photographers and florists to service homosexual weddings. They sue Christian psychotherapists must not only take on homosexual patients, but affirm their actions.  They even want to indoctrinate children by rewriting state educational standards so that homosexuality is taught from the first grade. There's been a concerted effort to consciously and determinedly change our society so that homosexuality will appear as benign even though the science shows that it is nothing of the sort. It should be no surprise, then, that Christians and parents would respond.

When I'm at a university, the floor is wide open for questions. People can come up and ask anything, and they immediately latch onto homosexuality and continue to ask about it over and over. They then ask, "Why are you guys so obsessed with this subject?" I tell them I will give them an answer, but I want to know what their motivation was in asking the question in the first place. I will say, "I think that the changes that we're being asked to make as a society are serious and they require thought and care before  we simply jump into them. But realize that YOU are asking this question and I'm responding to it. You brought up the issue of homosexuality, not me."

Christianity didn't initiate this conflict. We should as thoughtful people should respond to the demands that others are making, but we've been playing defense from the start. Homosexuality wasn't even on most Christians' radar before the 1980's when the media began covering it in response to the AIDS epidemic. Then, after the assembly  175 homosexual activists into a forum they themselves dubbed " the War Conference", activists Kirk and Madsen produced a published manifesto with the goal to "desensitize, jam, and convert" the American public on the issue of homosexuality. That turned into a book which further pushed what Dr. Charles W. Socarides  called a plan "chilling in its diabolism, chilling in its hatred of straight America, chilling in its advocacy of lack of conscience, chilling in its brutal and naked lust not for sex but for power."

So, no, Christians are not obsessed with homosexuality. Homosexual activists and the media are.

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

Same-Sex Governments vs. Same-Sex Marriage

One of the things I like to do in the morning is read the Opinion section of the Los Angeles Times. It gives me a bit of insight into how people on both sides of an issue are thinking. But I can also see how reactionary or inconsistent certain points of view can be.

In yesterday's paper, LA Times columnist Jim Newton authored a piece where he voiced his concern about the upcoming Los Angeles City elections. Entitled "An all-male City Council?" , it decries the absence of women in the civic races, stating it is quite possible that all 18 positions could be filled by men.  He writes, "at least 13 of 15 council seats will be filled by men after July 1. The city attorney will be a man, as will Greuel's successor as controller." He then asks "Does it matter?"

Newton receives his answer from Laura Chick, a previously elected city official. Chick responds "Absolutely it makes a difference. Our brains are different. We have different perspectives…. There's something terribly wrong with this." The term for someone serving on the Los Angeles City Council is four years, so it. Newton calls such a scenario "a startling setback".

I agree with Chick on her assessment of women and men.  Women do provide a different perspective and they are wired to think differently. However, today, the Los Angeles Times editors provided their endorsement for same-sex marriage dismissing the argument that such configurations would be harmful to children.  The editorial proclaims, "The notion that same-sex couples cannot be loving and competent parents is not supported by research, and in any event children already are being raised by same-sex parents even where same-sex marriage is not legal."

Leaving aside the false way the editors framed Justice Kennedy's concern, I think it's clear how inconsistent the Los Angeles Times is showing itself to be.  To have only single sex representation on the City Council "absolutely matters." It would be a "startling setback" for the city whose council members only serve for four years and still have access to the thoughts and understanding of both male and female constituencies.  This is because men and women have different brains and different perspectives.  However, to have a same-sex couple rear children for eighteen years is not a problem at all, because it's happening. But how is it possible that both can be true?

Men and women are different, and they act differently as a result. The idea that they have different brains means the sexes are not interchangeable; biology matters. If an absence of a sexual perspective matters for a four year term, it most definitely matters when it's missing from the home life of a developing child for all of his or her formative years.  The primary way children learn to understand how to be a man or a woman and how to interact with those of the opposite sex is through the modeling of their parents. The child of a homosexual couples are denied this.

So, which is it?  Does it matter if a city council or a family is confined to a single sex or do both sexes offer something unique to the process? If they do, then why don't the Times' editors at least admit as much?

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Is Science Against Homosexuality?

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
We all know that smoking is hazardous to one's health.  In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has put out data showing that when looking as smokers versus non-smokers, smoking is estimated to increase the risk of:
  • coronary heart disease by 2 to 4 times,
  • stroke by 2 to 4 times,
  • men developing lung cancer by 23 times,
  •  women developing lung cancer by 13 times, and
  • dying from chronic obstructive lung diseases (such as chronic bronchitis and emphysema) by 12 to 13 times.[1]
These are pretty compelling numbers and they are enough to cause the U.S. government to require warning labels on every pack of cigarettes sold, the state of California to spend taxpayer dollars on a long-running anti-smoking ad campaign, and folks like New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg to actively try and dissuade people from taking up smoking.

What if smoking didn't increase the risk of lung cancer by 23 times, but 150 times? Do you think that public health organizations would put forth even more effort to try and curtail the act of smoking? What if it wasn't smoking, but some other act? Would we react just as strongly?

Many people would immediately say either "Yes" or "some may not, but they should!"  After all, the science is on their side, right?  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is one of the pre-eminent health institutions of the world, and they are using the latest in scientific findings to try and promote healthier lifestyles for our citizens. Therefore, we should heed their findings. That's the theory in the abstract, but it doesn't work out that way when the activity under question is one that is politically popular to support.

MercatorNet  recently published an article (h/t WinteryKinght) where they culled several stats from the CDC on how susceptible people are to contracting HIV. The CDC reports that men who have sex with men (MSM as the CDC labels them) are 150 times more likely to contract HIV than the heterosexual male population at large. That means that MSM are engaging in a behavior that is astronomically more likely to cause HIV than smoking is to cause lung cancer, heart disease, or stroke. It's an incredibly serious find.

Do I think that because of the CDC finding that various federal and local governments will immediately generate campaigns and advertisements to dissuade people from even casual same sex intercourse?  Of course it won't, because such a statement is politically incorrect. Correcting the actions to lower the risk are a secondary concern to protecting their reputations as being tolerant of others' lifestyles. I guess tolerance takes on a different meaning when it's a smoker's activity that is being questioned.

I'm sure I will hear simple-minded rebuttals to this post such as "well, no one is born a smoker!" True, but so what? I'm talking about actions, not orientation. We can each control our actions. What about those who claim to be bisexual? Should we try to dissuade them? Should we try to dissuade heterosexual men who are just experimenting? If the answer is "no" then my question is "why not?"

It seems to me that quitting smoking is a very hard thing to do, especially if someone was raised in a household where smoking was ubiquitous, where all their peers expected them to smoke, and they have been smoking for some twenty years now.  We still ask them to quit, and we do so because of the science that shows the risks to themselves as well as the wider society. Why can't we say to the vast majority of men out there that the science shows having homosexual relations is in itself proven to be a high-risk behavior and it should be avoided if at all possible?

In my discussions with atheists, I have many encounters with those who wave the flag of "science ├╝ber alles!" They feel that science is the only way to the future and science is the only thing that is authoritative.  They claim it is only through science that we've left the superstitions of the past behind and we should follow its findings if we want to progress as a species. So here I want to challenge them.  If we should follow science wherever it leads, then let's discourage men having sex with men.  If there are factors other than just the science that mitigate this, then you must admit that and give up on the claim that science is the only guiding principle for the betterment of humanity. Which choice would you like to take?

References

[1] See "Health Effects of Cigarette Smoking." Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/data_statistics/fact_sheets/health_effects/effects_cig_smoking/index.htm Accessed 3/26/2013.

Monday, March 04, 2013

Arguing against Mixing Sexes in Locker Rooms

A couple of weeks ago, the Massachusetts Department of Education put in place new rules for all elementary and secondary public education institutions, instructing schools on how to comply with the state's gender identity law. (You can read the actual guidelines here.) As Joe Carter pointed out, the identifying factor in determining gender is left to the student him or herself. He then writes "Any teen boy can claim, with a wink to his peers and a straight face to his educators, that he has decided to identify as a female and will then have unlimited access to the girls' restroom and locker rooms." I posted the story on my Facebook page and got some immediate responses   The discussion I had with one person is below. Read on and I will make some comments at the end.

Lenny: I wouldn't subject my teenage daughter to be forced into the same locker room with a student showing male genitalia. Why should a hundred girls be made uncomfortable for the comfort of one confused boy?

RG: As opposed to forcing a transgendered person to be uncomfortable within a locker room where they don't belong? I think we all should teach our kids to understand and respect the human body as opposed to fear it or be made uncomfortable by it.

Lenny:  Why would a human being not belong in a locker room where he or she shares the exact same body parts as all the other occupants? it strikes me that this "discomfort" of which you speak has nothing at all to do with either biology or the actual fact that there are physical differences between males and females, and we should respect those differences enough to provide for proper privacy.

I note that you don't say that its the supposedly transgendered individual who needs to "understand and respect" his own body. No, all the OTHER kids in Massachusetts schools need to change. There is no way to justify such ignorance.

RG: So, first we have to ask ourselves 2 questions:

1. Do you believe there are a subset of the population that are transgendered? If not, then there is no need to discuss what Massachusetts has done here. However, since Mass understands the dynamics of an ever changing, growing and enlightened society, let's agree there are those kinds of people and move to question 2.

2. Do you think that someone should not be judged clearly on their anatomy? That they are not the sum of their parts? If you pardon the pun. And that is what Mass is trying to address and protect a class of citizens from laws that target them unfairly. That we as a society can look at someone and not say, you have a penis, you are a boy, end of story and rather look at the person who could not help how they are on the inside and force them to be a certain way because it makes the rest of us more comfortable. And yes, we should teach our children to be more understanding and respectful of people different than us and to not be ashamed of our bodies since it is about looking what is on the inside than the outside

Lenny:  No, we don't need to ask those questions first. The very first thing one should ask is "Why do we mandate restrooms and locker rooms to be separated by sex at all?" That's the central issue and that's the item that's being changed. Why don't we place large picture windows in locker rooms? Why should we have any kind of privacy by sex? Once you understand the reason for privacy at all, the rest of the argument can take on a clearer context.

RG: So forgetting all these scare tactics about regulation of such laws and getting to the heart of it, everyone should be allowed to enter areas (locker, bathroom, etc.) in accordance with their gender identity. Gender identity is evolving in such a way to not specifically be about anatomy. If you want to give me a reason why this isnt true or should only be limited to anatomy, please tell me.

Lenny:  Don't try to turn it around. YOU need to provide a reason why it SHOULDN'T be limited to anatomy. Anatomy is something solid. It can be tested scientifically and is instantly recognizable when seeing an unclothed body. That's what separate changing rooms are all about - so people of the opposite sex don't see your body. This is obvious. You're working really hard at trying to justify your position, but you keep talking about this like it's an abstract issue. These are real kids. If you want to wear pants or a dress doesn't matter when you're clothes are off, which is the situation in the locker rooms. Anatomy is all there is at that point.

RG: So then my previous comment holds true, why even discuss this decision when you still don't believe that someone could be born anatomically one way yet be different on the inside.

It is odd that you want to bring up things that can be scientifically validated when God cannot be and yet you believe that.

Lenny:  "Different on the inside" whether true or not, is not a factor in this discussion. I may or may not believe that a person could feel different about sports, or that they identify more as a cat than as a person. None of it has bearing on the question of whether students should be subjected to viewing the genitalia of another person of the opposite sex while simultaneously exposing themselves. It's a non-sequitor. It does not follow.

RG: (Provided link to a story of a supposedly transgendered eight year old boy who has feminine tendencies.)

Lenny:  Yeah, I'm actually familiar with that article. But nothing follows from it.

RG: Again, this is the typical metaphors, usually from religious people that goes against their doctrine. To compare someone who knows they were born into the wrong body to someone who likes dogs instead of cats or identifies with a sports team. REALLY? It is the same thing? And quit living in the middle, I may or may not, obviously you have an opinion that is driving your rationale. After looking at the evidence, while may not be definitive, I choose to believe that there is a subset of people born into the wrong bodies and for society to tell them, 'hey, sucks for you, use the right bathroom' is incredibly ignorant and disrespectful of people who are different than us. To say that a person is ONLY the sum of their physical appearances is sad. I choose to move on the side of empathy and teach my future kids the same thing rather than judge those transgendered people who have been picked on their whole lives to continue the discrimination into adulthood. I choose to be a better person, a more understanding person, after all, isn't that what your God says we should all be. If a female-to-male walked into my lockeroom or bathroom, I wouldn't run scared but embrace their strength.

I want the reader to notice a couple of things from this exchange. First, RG wanted to bait me into a discussion of whether transgenderism is a real condition or not. However, I wouldn't bite. It truly does not matter whether I think transgenderism is a medical condition, a psychological condition, or whether I'm for it or against it. I have good arguments for the problems with dealing with those who claim to be "born with the wrong body", but that's not the issue here. I wanted to address the insane idea that even if transgenderism is true, that means that that one person can ignore his or her physiology, even at the expense of the rest of the student body. No one's feelings matter except the one who the state of Massachusetts deems needs protecting. No one's privacy matters any more, because this political issue trumps everything else--and it's being applied to our children! Such a stance should offend any rational person.

Secondly, you'll notice that RG never even attempted to answer my question of why we segregate bathrooms and locker rooms at all. Why? Because as soon as he does, his entire case falls apart. He cannot answer the question an he knows it. He uses all kinds of emotionally charged words ("understand and respect the human body as opposed to fear it," "move on there side of empathy," "scare tactics," etc.) but those are the only points of his argument. He cannot appeal to science (a tactic he usually takes when discussing whether or not God exists) because the science is pretty clear. These people have twenty three pairs of chromosomes and the last one is either XX or XY.

No, science doesn't matter, morality doesn't matter, and common sense has flown out the window when it comes to issues like transgendersim. All that matters to folks like this is to advance a particular agenda, and everyone else be damned. There truly is no logic to it. It is political correctness on steroids and I would hope that by focusing our arguments on the problem at hand more people can see how crazy our laws are becoming.

Sunday, March 03, 2013

Tackling the Issue of Homosexuality

I've recently completed broadcasting a four part series on homosexuality and the controversies surrounding it. How do we reach out to both homosexuals and the public at large in a loving yet convincing way? Christians need to do more work in this area.  Listen to all four parts to learn more about effectively arguing for the Christian position on this topic.
To get all the latest episodes of the podcast, you can either subscribe via RSS RSS feed or visit our iTunes page

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Is the Media Biased on Same-Sex Marriage

This weekend, Patrick Peyton, Ombudsman with the Washington Post published a piece on how he and a reporter from the Post exchanged an animated dialog with a reader over the paper's coverage of the same-sex marriage issue. As Mollie Hemingway pointed out in her column over at Get Religion "the reporter reveals some breathtaking bigotry about the people he or she is supposed to be covering." But Paxton, whose job as Ombudsman is supposed to be the people's advocate and voice to the paper, is just as complicit in his complete ignorance of the reasoning that social conservatives use when discussing the issue.

By Pablo Perez

The primary problem is identified by Rod Dreher. He states:
"Most reporters and editors, in my 20 years of experience, do not set out to slant stories, and in fact try to be fair. The bias that creeps into their coverage is typically the result of a newsroom monoculture, in which they don't see the bias because everybody, or nearly everybody, within that culture agrees on so much. In the case of gay rights and the marriage debate, though, they don't even make an effort to be fair."
Dreher says that the reporters, editors, and others in most mainstream journalism outlets fall back on the concept that "error has no rights." In other words, we reporters know that you traditional values folks (or worse "religionists" as Peyton called us) are really backwards buffoons, and therefore your opinion isn't even worth understanding. This belief is assumed to be true, even as it vilifies a significant portion of the population. So, there is no vast left-wing conspiracy, but a general unrecognized level of groupthink by the media.

Of course throughout the original post, Peyton continually misunderstands both the concern of the reader and the argument we have against same-sex marriage.  He falls back yet again to the old trope that its basis is the same as bigotry against mixed race marriages. But such a comparison is as insulting as it is pig-headed. As I've noted in a recent podcast, marriage is the only institution that allows our society to continue through the act of procreation and the rearing of children. There is no other institution that will bring us the next generation. No other. Not one.  Homosexual unions by their very definition cannot do this. Sure they can adopt children, or maybe "borrow" a gamete from the opposite sex to birth children. But such measures will never produce an entire generation of citizens. In fact, books like Huxley's Brave New World cry out against the divorce of human procreation from its natural biological origins.

Hemingway I think hits the nail on the head when she writes:
Here's what needs to happen. Right now. Every reporter — no matter the beat, no matter how much in the tank for redefining marriage, no matter how close-minded they've been to this point — every reporter needs to stop what they're doing and read "What is Marriage."

It's a very easy-to-read book that succinctly explains the traditionalist arguments surrounding marriage. Refusing to learn the arguments of those who oppose changing the law must end. It simply must end. The ignorance and bigotry with which reporters have covered this topic is a scandal. It's destroying civil political discourse, it's embarrassing and can't continue.

Reporters don't need to change their deeply-held biases in favor of changing marriage law. But they do need to learn even a little bit about the arguments of those who oppose such a change.

No reporter working today should ever make the error of comparing arguments against marriage redefinition with anti-miscegenation laws. It's clownish and easily disputed.
Such a step is one of the bare minimum requirements for the job of journalism. Get the facts straight first, and then you can report the news accurately.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Same-Sex Marriage Debate


CNN just posted a video of a debate concerning same-sex marriage pitting Sherif Girgis, one of the co-authors of What is Marriage? Man and Woman: A Defense against Andrew Koppelman, author of Defending American Religious Neutrality. As the web site says "Mr. Sherif argued against same-sex marriage, saying the issue was not about equality but rather what marriage is and the reasons states are involved in the question. He said 'marriage is fulfilled by the bearing and rearing of whole new children.' Mr. Koppelman made his case in favor of same-sex marriage by refuting Mr. Sherif’s thesis. Following their prepared remarks they answered questions from moderator Richard Fallon and audience members."

Sharif opens with the following argument:
  1. The main vision supporting same-sex marriage is mistaken. It's wrong on what marriage is, and in how it sets marriage apart from other bonds.
  2. Enshrining that new vision of marriage in law would be harmful for the common good, e.g. the reasons why the State gets involved at all in the marriage question.
  3. Mainstream arguments for same-sex marriage have a lot of internal contradictions that underscore their faulty reasoning.
This is a good exchange with respectful participants. The entire debate, which with Q &A runs just under an hour and can be found at http://www.c-spanvideo.org/program/310722-1

Friday, November 02, 2012

In Online Dialogues, Asking Questions Is Crucial!

Yesterday, I tweeted a link to a story about two British banks pulling their support from the pro-homosexual group Stonewall's annual awards dinner because one of the "awards" they are presenting is the bigot award, in which they deride people that oppose the homosexual political agenda. My original tweet was:

Asking questions as an effective apologetics tool

British pro-homosexual group creates "bigot" award, despite objections from sponsors. So who's being bigoted now? http://bit.ly/ScyR6Y

One response I received was from Adam Preston, who on his Twitter page describes himself as "atheist. bibliophile. interested in military history, secularism, evolutionary psychology, LGBT rights. member of Labour Party & National Secular Society."  Below is our entire exchange.  I think this is helpful in showing why asking questions can play a key role in discussions with others.

@adam_preston: Calling a bigot a bigot is not bigoted.

@comereason: What're the essential attributes of a bigot? People throw these terms around too much without clearly knowing what they mean.

@adam_preston: I'd say wanting to deny equal rights to LGBT people because of your religion constitutes bigotry

@comereason: That's not what I asked. What are the necessary conditions to be labeled a bigot in any sense? Don't deflect the issue.

@adam_preston: Inflexibile intolerance and prejudice towards a group of people. I think that applies to most vocal anti-equalmarriage people

@comereason: By using prejudice you beg the question. Regardless, I am intolerant of serial killers. Is that bigotry?

@adam_preston: Was expecting that response. Although usually it's paedophiles, not serial killers. Intolerance of serial killers is RATIONAL

@comereason: So if the intolerance against a person is rational, it is not bigotry. Is that your view?

@adam_preston: In the sense that intolerance of child abusers & serial killers is not bigotry, while racism and sexism are, yes.

@comereason: Can you tell me why racism or sexism is irrational while the others aren't? What makes one belief rational and another isn't?

@adam_preston: Child abuse and murder are clearly harmful to individuals and society. How is equality harmful and how are gays dangerous?

@comereason: Is physical harm the only basis for rational intolerance? Can I be intolerant of cheaters or drunks if they harm no one else?

@adam_preston: Intolerance of them would be wrong, yes. Believing it's wrong to CHEAT is one thing. Intolerance of all who have is different

@comereason: I completely agree!! Being intolerant of the actions of cheating is different than being bigoted against the cheaters.

After my last statement Adam didn't respond again.  I think he could see the implication of his position that one can be against a behavior and not be considered a bigot, even if that behavior doesn't cause direct harm to another. This is exactly the position that Christians have taken for a while now.
Do I think the above exchange has changed Adam's mind and he will stop labeling those who are for traditional marriage bigots?  No, I don't.  But it may help clarify the issue in the minds of others reading the exchange and it does allow me to hold Adam to his own standard if he confronts me again.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Teaching What is Unnatural - California and Homosexual Instruction

I hate trying to do a job with the wrong tools. There have been times when, for lack of a screwdriver, I've resorted to a butter knife to try and tighten a screw. If the screw fits tightly, then I usually damage the tip of the butter knife. Using a butter knife as a screwdriver can be done in a pinch, but it certainly isn't recommended and no one would say that screwdrivers make good butter knives. Each was designed for completely different functions.


Distinguishing the functions of butter knives and screwdrivers is a pretty basic task; one we use in making decisions daily. Should someone to run a hair dryer in the shower? Of course not! You can simply look at how these items are built to see their functions.  Electric hair dryers will not function properly in water, it's simple and we consider it common sense.

Now, let's use this same grid when looking at homosexual unions. When it comes to intimacy, we can look and see that homosexual unions cannot function correctly. The parts simply are not there so that intimacy can be achieved and still have the couple's bodies fit as they were designed to fit. It's simply obvious that two male or two female bodies won't couple in the same way. Therefore, homosexuals are forced to find other ways to be intimate. Do heterosexuals practice some of these "techniques"? Yes, they do, but that's not my argument. Just like sometimes using a butter knife as a screwdriver, both heterosexual and homosexual couples can use alternative means to seek sexual fulfillment. However, homosexuals have one aspect of intimacy not available to them that is available to heterosexual couples. That's the natural coupling of bodies to fit in a way that they were designed to fit. This is a huge exception! To not have this aspect of intimacy available to any couple shows that no matter what way homosexuals seek physical intimacy, it won't be the way that nature intended their bodies to be used.

Because homosexuals cannot couple in a way nature intended, it follows that homosexual unions are not natural. Homosexual unions are like construction workers who only have butter knives in their tool belts. Without the tools to function properly, no one would hire such workers to work on his or her home. You would deem them incompetent. Worse, if your son or daughter's shop class instructed the students that butter knives were an acceptable substitute for screwdrivers, you would rightly complain to the principle that unsafe practices are passing as education, and probably pull your child out of shop until the situation changes.

Starting January 1st, though, California mandates that the state's elementary schools teach children, even first graders, that homosexuality is a legitimate way for couples to function.  As this recent L.A. Times article shows, even liberal school who have upheld homosexuality as acceptable are having a hard time figuring out how to work such indoctrination into the classroom. This is simply outrageous. The danger inherent in promoting this line of thinking is far more dangerous than teaching wrong concepts in shop class. This puts the very fabric of our culture in the cross-hairs, and would affect all.

The Times article ends with one of the school staff commenting on just how they will implement the new teaching mandates. "'We're looking for places of natural fit. We're not going to shoehorn in something gratuitous just to make a point.'" And that's my point exactly. The bodies of homosexuals don't fit, the instruction won't fit and entire law doesn't fit. it is a gratuitous law that is shoehorned into teaching standards just to appease  certain segment of the majority party's supporters. We are supposed to teach our kids that doing construction with butter knives is just another acceptable choice, no matter how many fingers you may lose. We should be outraged.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Don't Ask a Test Tube to be a Father

This past January, the Sundance Film Festival debuted The Kids Are Alright, a movie about the tests a lesbian couple endures when their two children seek out to find their sperm-donor father. Of course, the movie's pro-homosexual message at the end is all about the difficulties every couple faces through years of commitment, echoed approvingly by an article in Psychology Today.1 But this is a movie, and just like everything else that comes out of Hollywood, the truth is a very different – and disturbing – thing.



In this case, the truth comes from the definitively non-conservative online magazine Slate. In their article "The Sperm-Donor Kids Are Not Really All Right", authors Karen Clark and Elizabeth Marquardt look at how having a sperm donor father affects the emotional stability and overall well-being of a child, and the results are startling.  Here is just a brief summary of some of Clark and Marquart's findings:
  • Regardless of socioeconomic status, donor offspring are twice as likely as those raised by biological parents to report problems with the law before age 25.
  • They are more than twice as likely to report having struggled with substance abuse.
  • They are about 1.5 times as likely to report depression or other mental health problems.
Some people may be tempted to think that this is typical of any displaced child since they have unresolved questions of their biology, not knowing who one of their parents was. However Clark and Marquart also studied children who were adopted, and in comparing donor offspring to adopted children they write:
As a group, the donor offspring in our study are suffering more than those who were adopted: hurting more, feeling more confused, and feeling more isolated from their families. (And our study found that the adoptees on average are struggling more than those raised by their biological parents.) The donor offspring are more likely than the adopted to have struggled with addiction and delinquency and, similar to the adopted, a significant number have confronted depression or other mental illness. Nearly half of donor offspring, and more than half of adoptees, agree, "It is better to adopt than to use donated sperm or eggs to have a child."

In the film (disclaimer: I've not seen the movie; I've only viewed the trailer) one of the children asks his father "Why did you donate your sperm?" The man replies "It seemed a whole lot more fun at the time than donating blood." This sums up much of what is wrong with our culture’s view of creating a family. People who take a frivolous approach to having a child (or providing the materials such as sperm or ovum to create them) are not looking toward the future child’s best interest. In fact, many people seem to believe that children are just one more accessory they are entitled to, so that their list of stuff is complete. But as we see, such frivolous attitudes lead to real, damaging consequences. And these consequences not only affect the sperm-donor kids, but they affect the society as a whole who has to cope with, treat, or jail the negative actions they perform as a result.

God's original design for marriage is a father and a mother committed for life, bringing up their biological offspring. Even in our "enlightened" era, it looks like that formula is still the best for raising strong, well-adjusted individuals. No matter what Hollywood preaches, the truth tells the tale.

You can read the entire Slate article here.
You can see the actual study from Clark and Marquart here.

References

1. For the Psychology Today review of the movie, go here.
Image courtesy Brendan Dolan-Gavitt and licensed by the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0) License.
Come Reason brandmark Convincing Christianity
An invaluable addition to the realm of Christian apologetics

Mary Jo Sharp:

"Lenny Esposito's work at Come Reason Ministries is an invaluable addition to the realm of Christian apologetics. He is as knowledgeable as he is gracious. I highly recommend booking Lenny as a speaker for your next conference or workshop!"
Check out more X