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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 www.comereason.org 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 marriage. Show all posts
Showing posts with label marriage. Show all posts

Friday, January 09, 2015

Two More Arguments Against Homosexual Marriage

Many pundits are stating that 2015 will be the year the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS)  will take up the question of homosexual marriage. With conflicting rulings from different federal courts of appeal, it seems more than likely. But SCOTUS doesn't have to rely on religious beliefs alone to understand why allowing homosexual marriage is a dangerous precedent for a society to set. Once can look at the behavior and the political issues that the concept of marriage involves to argue that protecting natural marriage is more beneficial to the citizens of the state than redefining marriage to any and all comers.


The Behavioral Question

I've previously written on biological and medical arguments against homosexual marriage that I believe are incredibly strong and demonstrate how natural marriage is more than just a way to share a life with someone you love. Yet people argue that individuals have the right to define marriage as they see fit. They share the opinion of Chip Arndt and Reichen Lehmkuhl, the self-proclaimed "married" homosexual couple who won CBS' game show The Amazing Race. Arndt noted the Oxford dictionary definition of marriage encompasses only a man and a woman. He then commented, "What's happening today, which has always happened through any revolution of culture, is that people redefine words. And we're basically saying-
Reichen: It's time to redefine.
Chip: It's time to redefine it."1

I've said before that heterosexual marriage is necessary to survival of a culture and how the concept of marriage as we now understand it is incompatible with same sex unions. What many don't realize is many in the homosexual community who do want to redefine marriage intend to change the concept well beyond the boundaries of which sexes are involved.

Even today, looking at homosexual couples who identify themselves as monogamous or committed, one finds a modification of those concepts. In the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Sociology, scientists studying homosexual relationships noted "Gay monogamous relationships are rarely faithful. 'Monogamous' seems to imply some primary emotional commitment, while causal sex continues on the side."2

Another study of homosexual partnerships was conducted by German "Sexologist" and homosexual Dr. Martin Dannecker. In 1991, Dannecker studied 900 homosexuals in 1991 living in what they defined as "steady relationships". However, Dannecker found that 83% of those males had numerous sexual encounters outside their partnerships over a one-year period. Dannecker then concluded that the "clear differences in the manner of sexual gratification" between single and non-single gay men were the reverse of what he expected. Of the homosexual men in steady relationships, he wrote, " the average number of homosexual contacts per person was 115 in the past year." In Contrast, single gay men had only 45 sexual contacts.3

Such a radical departure from the concept of two people entering into a lifetime commitment is both shocking and dangerous. Promiscuity is understood as a high-risk behavior carrying dire consequences, not the least of which are health related. In fact, an upscale homosexual men's magazine, Genre, surveyed 1037 readers in October of 1996. Here are some of the results: "One of the single largest groups in the gay community still experiencing an increase of HIV are supposedly monogamous couples." 52% have had sex in a public park. 45% have participated in three-way sex. 42% have had sex with more than 100 different partners and 16% claim between 40 to 100 partners.4

Of course there are those who want to do away with the concept of marriage being a union between two individuals altogether. In a Los Angeles Times article,  the head of the International Gay & Lesbian Human Rights Commission, Paula Ettelbrick, was interviewed and asked about her views on the same-sex marriage controversy. Ettelbrick, who is also a law professor, "recommends legalizing a wide variety of marriage alternatives, including polyamory, or group wedlock. An example could include a lesbian couple living with a sperm-donor father, or a network of men and women who share sexual relations."5 The article goes on to discuss how one of her goals, in Ettelbrick's words, is to "push the parameters of sex, sexuality and family, and in the process transform the very fabric of society."6 Such changes to the concept of marriage do nothing to alleviate the high-risk behavior in which homosexuals engage and, according to Dannecker's study, may actually enflame such behaviors.

The Political Question

Ultimately, it becomes important to understand why marriage is encouraged within the laws of the United States. As I've written before, the marriage relationship is seen as so necessary that "every human societ[y] has had to promote it actively".7  This means that the welfare of the society depends on the active encouragement of monogamous heterosexual unions. When understood this way, one can make a case that the U.S. constitution requires the definition of marriage to remain as it now stands.

First, we must understand that homosexuals are not being denied equal rights to marry whomever they want. The restrictions regarding marriage are enforced equally to both the heterosexual and homosexual population. For example, neither homosexuals nor heterosexuals can marry a sibling. In the same way, no one can marry someone of the same sex - that proscription applies to all citizens equally and is therefore not discriminatory.

So, why does the government restrict marriage at all? The opening paragraph of the U.S. Constitution is known as the Preamble, and it sets forth the overarching principles of what the document is designed to accomplish. It reads "We, the People of the United States of America, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice and ensure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity do ordain and establish this constitution of the United States of America."8

Note that the writers explicitly state its purpose is to promote the general welfare for the people of the United States and their posterity. But I've demonstrated that homosexual marriage is in conflict with this. It wouldn't promote the general welfare of the society - it would hinder that process! Therefore, it does not make sense to say homosexual marriage is a constitutional freedom. How can we usurp this foundational intent of the framers that's explicitly stated in the constitution itself with something that is nowhere mentioned as a right?

Philosopher Francis Beckwith, in his article "Wedding Bell Blues; Understanding the Same-Sex Marriage Debate" sums it up thusly, "Since marriage is an intrinsic good, just as justice is an intrinsic good, a culture that does not nourish, encourage, and protect traditional marriage will do so at its own peril, just as it would imperil itself if it no longer understood justice as an intrinsic good. … Republican (small "r") government results from good citizens civilized by the institutions of family, honest work, and good religion. If, to quote Aristotle, statecraft is soulcraft, then the end of the state should be to produce good citizens and therefore provide a privileged and protected position for these institutions. The state, consequently, should treat traditional marriage as privileged and protected in contrast to other alternatives."9

Beckwith states that the purpose of government really defines its role regarding marriage. If the state is interested in making good citizens and promoting the good, then marriage must be protected as a heterosexual union. He continues "On the other hand, a state that treats all alternative lifestyles as equal does not believe that statecraft is soulcraft and is therefore not particularly interested in producing good citizens qualified to engage in republican government. Such a state denies there is any such thing as the good, the true, or the beautiful."10  The founding fathers have demonstrated that the government of the United States was formed for a higher purpose, that qualities such as establishing justice, promoting the welfare of the people and ensuring that their posterity also enjoyed those assurances. Since homosexual marriage endangers society in real ways and is antithetical to those ends it cannot be considered constitutionally protected. It does, in fact, undermine the intent of the constitution itself.

References:

1.Advocate.com Editors. "Married and Millionaires-amazing!" Advocate.com. Here Media, Inc., 21 Aug. 2003. Web. 09 Jan. 2015. http://www.advocate.com/news/2003/08/22/married-and-millionaires%E2%80%94amazing-0?page=0%2C1.
2. Connell, RW. Crawford, J., Dowsett, GW., Kippax, S., Sinnott, V., Rodden, P., Berg, R., Baxter, D., Waston, L., "Danger and context: unsafe anal sexual practice among homosexual and bisexual men in the AIDS crisis" Australian and New Zealand Journal of Sociology (1990 ) 26: pp.187-208.
3. Wittmeier, Carmen. "Now They Know The Other Half." Alberta Report 7 June 1999: 27. Print.
4. "Sex Survey Results," Genre (October 1996), quoted in "Survey Finds 40 percent of Gay Men Have Had More Than 40 Sex Partners," Lambda Report, January 1998, 20. Print.
5. Rivenburg, Roy "Divided over Gay Marriage" Los Angeles Times 12 March 2004. E1. Print.
6. Ibid.
7. 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
8. The United States Constitution
9. Beckwith, Francis J. "Wedding Bell Blues: Understanding the Same-Sex Marriage Debate - Christian Research Institute." Equip.org. Christian Research Institute, 22 Apr. 2009. Web. 09 Jan. 2015. http://www.equip.org/article/wedding-bell-blues-understanding-the-same-sex-marriage-debate/.
10. Ibid.

Sunday, September 07, 2014

Gay College Prof Indoctrinating Students

Here are some stories from September's Apologetics Update email newsletter. Sign up on the right to get these delivered to your inbox each month.

September is here and school has begun, which means that the ministry here takes on an increasing importance. Just this week in fact, I spoke with a girl who is a freshman at the local community college. She had enrolled in freshman English, a required class. The professor announced that he was an "out" homosexual man and was recently married to his partner.



Such professions by an instructor would be perhaps a bit bothersome, but not completely avoidable in such an environment. However, the shocking thing was the first assignment given to the class: the students were required to write a four page essay answering the question "What is Marriage?" in a new, fresh, engaging, and/or surprising way (emphasis included in the original assignment sheet).

Why should the concept of marriage, which all cultures across time have understood as the lifelong coupling between a man and a woman that provides the stability to produce and rear offspring, need to be redefined in some new or surprising way? That is like asking someone to redefine automobile in a new or surprising way. Why would one create such an assignment unless the goal is to create the impression that the idea of marriage is up for grabs? Note that this was an English class, not sociology or political science, and 10% of the grade earned in this required course comes from this assignment.

These types of subtle tricks to indoctrinate our kids infuriate me! How in the world will kids just out of high school be able to defend the historic and natural understanding of marriage on their own? They simply don't have the experience to answer the subversion of their beliefs in this assignment. They are like the proverbial frog in the pot; the prof slowly turns up the heat and soon all their Christian values are boiled right out of them.

I was glad to be able to provide some resources to this girl that clarifies how marriage requires of two people of the opposite sex because it is a function of how God constructed our bodies. Marriage is as much a function of biology as it is of relationship, and as such it cannot be redefined on a whim, even if you do not believe the Bible.

I'm glad that I was able to help this student clarify her beliefs and provide her with some answers to maintain her Christian witness. But there are many other people out there who need help in a similar way. That's why Come Reason Ministries exists: to provide answers for the seeker and to help the Christian defend the truth of the Gospel in a hostile world. We do this through our web site, podcasts, videos, publications and speaking events. But we need your help.

Please prayerfully consider supporting Come Reason with a gift or inviting me to speak for your church or group. We need supporters so I can continue to help people like this young girl. Many have nowhere else to turn to find the answers that strengthen their faith in Christ, instead of tearing it down.

Speaking the Truth in Love Conference

I had a great time last month at the Speaking the Truth in Love Conference in Kent, Washington. It was great to meet conference organizer Eric Urabe in person although we has a "virtual" relationship for some time now. I also got to catch up with my friend Abdu Murray, who has been in great demand since his book Grand Central Question was published this year.  I should have videos of the event very soon and we will be making them available on the web site and in DVD format, so stay tuned!

September Apologetics Class:
Defending the Trinity Against World Religions


On Monday, September 8, I will be holding my next apologetics class at Harvest Christian Fellowship in Riverside entitled "Defending the Trinity Against World Religions." This class will help believers defend critical challenges against the Trinity such as the claim that the Trinity is a logical contradiction, the word Trinity is not found in the Bible, and the Trinity is too mysterious and unintelligible for us to understand.

The class is free and open to anyone. It begins at 7:00 PM and childcare is provided. Click here for details.

This Month's Apologetics Resource:
Hidden Ways the Gospels Prove Reliable


This month, I'm excited to offer a new resource for your gift of any size. "Hidden Ways the Gospels Prove Reliable" takes a look at evidence that has recently come to light showing how the gospel accounts must have been written by first century eyewitnesses of the events they record. By studying the names used throughout the accounts, noting interlocking testimony, and finding undesigned coincidences, it becomes easy to see that the gospels are not fable, fiction, nor falsehood.

This gift is yours for a secure donation of any size to help support the efforts of our ministry. Your tax deductible gift may be given securely online here, or you may send us a check at the address on the bottom of this email. However the Lord leads you, please know that I'm deeply grateful for your prayers and your friendship.

Blessings,

Lenny
Lenny Esposito

Monday, June 23, 2014

Do Homosexual Couples Value Women Less?

What a mess in Texas. Jason Hanna and Joe Riggs are homosexual partners who decided they wanted a family. Because the two men cannot procreate with each other, they enlisted an egg donor and a surrogate who gave birth to two boys, one sired by each man who was listed as that child's father on the birth certificate along with the surrogate. Hanna and Riggs wanted to adopt each other's boy so they could be legally recognized as parents; however a Texas judge disallowed the listing.1


This whole issue is a mess and it grieves me that Hannah and Riggs don't like the ramifications of their choice to be a homosexual couple. Part of choosing a homosexual relationship is knowing that one can never naturally produce children. It simply cannot be. Instead, they decided to father children through artificial means. This means that the two men enlisted the aid of at least two women in their desire to create children, one or more as the egg donor and another woman to carry the babies to term.

The fact that women are necessary to the child-bearing process shouldn't surprise anyone; even a third grader can tell you that every baby had a mommy and a daddy at some point. But Hanna and Riggs really don't like that reality. They are trying to manufacture a family while still holding onto their male-only relationship. But the question then arises: If a mother is necessary for the first nine months of human development, why would anyone think that she is optional for the next eighteen years? Why are the same feminists who scream because there are no women priests not screaming when two men appear before a Texas judge and say, "We would like you to legitimize our choice to deprive two children of their biological requirement for a mother"? Of course, they didn't put it in those terms, but that's what is implied by the action. Hanna and Riggs think that women add nothing essential to the proper development of human beings. Two people are all that matters, even if they are the same sex.

As an aside, why two? Where does the idea of a couple come from? That is also a result of biology, because only one man and one woman can procreate. You can't get a child with one or three. But if one ignores biology it could be one or five or perhaps even the government itself.

Perhaps that's the solution; take all biology out of the equation, have the government create the babies and assign them to people. Everyone gets the same chance that way and orientation or fertility never come into play. Or, we can say that we feel for the individuals who cannot conceive, but such a solution is worse than the affliction.

Riggs has protested the court decision, claiming that it isn't good for the babies. "Ultimately, we're talking about is what's better: one parent or two parents. For me it's two parents. It's a no-brainer."2 If Riggs was thinking about what's better for children, then he should have thought twice about the surrogacy itself. As I've written before, children from sperm donors don't do as well as children from biological parents.  Also, Mark Regenerus' huge study comparing same-sex families to natural families underscores the fact that if one wants the best outcome for a child, they should be reared with a mother and a father.

 I therefore think that it is right for the judge to rule as she did. Interestingly, I think a case can be made that those who hold to natural marriage as the appropriate environment in which to rear children actually value women more than those lobbying for the legal rights of homosexual men adopting children. Natural marriage proponents see women as irreplaceable—irreplaceable!—in the development on young lives. While some children may tragically lose the opportunity for a mother, to create that scenario by design strikes me as cruel.

References

1 Jehangir, Mariam. "Texas Judge Denies Gay Couple Legal Parenthood of Biological Sons." First to Know. Web. http://firsttoknow.com/texas-judge-says-gay-couple-cant-adopt-listed-birth-certificates-biological-sons-gay-couple-adoption/ 18 June 2014. Accessed 23 June 2014.

2 Ibid.

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

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.

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, 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

Monday, July 19, 2010

Vacation Apologetics - Meals and Mormon Beliefs

One of the great benefits on car trips with the family is that it forces families with normally busy schedules to spend a good amount of time together and allows you to talk about things that may not normally come up in conversation.  Yesterday was one of those days for us. We had to cover some 430 miles driving from Durango to Cedar City Utah.  This drive is incredible with breath taking vistas at every turn.  I'm really glad we've shunned the Interstate for this portion of the trip.


We went back through Four Corners (which was closed when we had passed it the first time) hoping to stand in Arizona, Colorado, Utah, and New Mexico all at the same time.  Alas, the Navajo Nation is doing construction on the monument so we could only walk around the fenced off circle.  Still, I can now say I jogged across four states. Forrest Gump, look out!

Of course Utah has deep Mormon roots, from the names of towns and places (Mt. Carmel, Zion National Park) to the state highway signs which hold a beehive symbol.  The state's population is 75% LDS, so I expect conversations to ensue. We check into our hotel (the clerk's name is Krishna!) and after a short swim, we all go out to dinner.

Even in popular culture, Mormonism and polygamy are intertwined.  During dinner, my oldest asks a bit about this, allowing me to explain how Joseph Smith taught that polygamy was appropriate and himself took many wives, eleven of whom were already married to other men. One of the goals of polygamy was to produce as many children as possible to help increase the LDS population, but polygamy was illegal in the United States, so the Mormons practiced it secretly. However, it was an affront to the average citizen even then and this practice is primarily why the Mormons were driven out of Illinois.

Because Joseph Smith was killed while awaiting trial in Illinois, it was Brigham Young, the second LDS president, who lead the Mormons to the Utah territory, where they first began practicing polygamy openly. Although the U.S. government had been trying to stem these practices for some time, the Mormons continued them and saw them as a commanded by their faith. This continued until the Supreme Court ruled that the government had the right to seize all church assets and disincorporate the church because of their flagrant violation of the Edmunds-Tucker Act.  In 1890, just after this ruling was handed down, LDS president Wilford Woodruf proclaimed a "revelation" form God disavowing further plural marriages within Mormonism.
 
In our discussion, I noted that modern day LDS become very uncomfortable when the practice of polygamy is brought up, usually saying that such things are far removed from what they believe now.  However, apostle Richard Lyman claimed to have a plural marriage as recently as 1943!  I also noted that many people splintered from the main Mormon Church once the proclamation was issued, spawning groups such as the FLDS and Warren Jeffs, who have recently been highlighted in the news.

A simple dinner was turned into a teachable moment as our family got to slow down and talk a little bit about what we were seeing around us.  We also got to correct some misunderstandings and put a better focus on how beliefs will impact the way people live and how they understand right and wrong.

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.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

War is Hell - and so is Divorce


An interesting article appeared in today's Los Angeles Times about the detrimental effects a father's deployment in Iraq has had on his family - particularly his 4-year-old daughter Tatum. Marine Staff Sgt. Tyrone Baugh was deployed for one year in Iraq and the effects on his toddler were shocking. She became rebellious, punching and throwing scissors at her teachers. The article reports:
A recent Rand Corp. study commissioned by the National Assn. of Military Families showed that approximately a third of children aged 11 to 17 from military families reported anxiety symptoms — sleeplessness, unexplained fears — double that seen in civilian families.

The youngest are also turning out to be more vulnerable than once thought: Tricare, the military's health insurance system, reported that mental health visits for children under 5 jumped 73% between 2005 and 2009.

"We would like to think that little kids won't remember, or won't notice; we know that's not accurate," said Ellen DeVoe, an associate professor of clinical practice at Boston University, who is developing a program to support young children with a parent returning from war. "Even babies and toddlers understand and will miss their parent. They may become withdrawn, they may cling to the parent at home. They don't yet understand the concept of time."
So, if being away from your young children for only a year can do so much damage, why isn't anyone asking "What about being divorced and being separated from them for their entire childhood?" Although divorced parents can have visitation rights, many of the same issues and feelings of abandonment and isolation come into play, especially when the divorce is being processed.

In the article, it states that Sgt. Baugh was returned stateside, but stationed in a town other than where his family had taken up residence, so he had to visit the kids on weekends and when he could. It also states that the problem persisted because Tatum didn't have full access to her father. And when the family tried to alleviate the problem by having Tatum move in with her dad, she cried at night because she didn't have her mom with her.

If a one year separation is problematic enough to warrant a front-page story in the Times, then the nastiness of a full-blown divorce must be off the charts. But something tells me it's too politically incorrect to chide divorcing parents in this day and age. I doubt the Times would cover that kind of story.

Image courtesy Tony Guyton and licensed via the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0) License.
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