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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 sex. Show all posts
Showing posts with label sex. Show all posts

Thursday, April 06, 2017

Pornography, Cannibalism, and Debasing Humanity through Non-Belief



In the early 1970s, there was a concerted effort to mainstream pornography. Not only did several mainstream studio/high production value films choose to feature nudity and overt sex scenes, but the pornographic film Deep Throat became the center of attention across the nation. Even trusted middle American publication Time magazine produced a feature on Deep Throat,1 giving a smut film the air of credibility.2 The New York Times writer Ralph Blumenthal commented that the film had "become a premier topic of cocktail‐party and dinner‐table conversation in Manhattan drawing rooms, Long Island beach cottages and ski country A‐frames. It has, in short, engendered a kind of porno chic."3 Not discussed were the countless number of victims in pornography's wake. Linda Boreman, billed as Lovelace in the film, has said "When you see the movie Deep Throat you are watching me being raped. It is a crime that movie is still showing; there was a gun to my head the entire time."

The trend towards porno-chic should have served as a caution. Sexual freedom advocates claimed licentiousness as liberation, arguing that old-fashioned morals were repressive and holding society back. However, the opposite has proven true. Today, one doesn't even have to look at naked people to see it.

Reza Aslan's interaction with a small extremist Hindu group of Aghori nomads where his face is smeared with the cremated ashes of the dead and he actually joins them in eating brains from the deceased and drinking from a human skull4 is as offensive and pornographic as any sexually explicit scene ever filmed. Aslan's choosing to capture the grotesque rituals of this tiny sect, not even representative of Hindus, is offered for shock value and to titillate. It reminds me of citizen spectators who stretch to view mangled bodies after an automobile accident: they feign horror as they struggle to see the carnage up close.

Robbing Human Worth for Ratings

Christianity has always held that human beings are intrinsically valuable. Human bodies are not a tool separate from the person, but part of what makes a person complete. Therefore the human body has intrinsic worth. Aslan's participation in eating brains is like a news reporter decrying the tragedy of the accident while zooming in for a close-up of the corpse. The very act itself is defiling and debases the value of the deceased. The Aztecs were noted for their human sacrifices, but we certainly don't need to recreate that today in order to understand their faith. Neither does any civilized person need to participate in cannibalism to understand the faith of this sect.

Here's the point: as our society abandons its Judeo-Christian ethic, it becomes more uncivilized by tolerating more and more acts of degradation. Pornography was previously seen as a vice that caters to man's animal instincts rather than his higher nature as a rational, civilized being. Newspapers wouldn't run pornography advertisements and "smut" carried a strong social stigma. Now, we have the most popular sit-coms writing full episodes about how the protagonists get to obsessively watch the free porn channel on their television set for a week.

Atheists are quick to charge that religion poisons everything and the world would be better without its constraints. They're wrong. No one would like to see their beloved parent or grandparent's body used as food for ritual or for ratings. It robs them of their dignity. Aslan is a secularist and he isn't behaving any better than these Aghori. CNN, in airing the piece, is also culpable. Porno-chic now includes mainstreaming cannibalism. What will be next?

References

1. "The Sexes: Wonder Woman." Time. Time Inc., 15 Jan. 1973. Web. 04 Apr. 2017. http://content.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,906765,00.html.
2. See this quote from Carolyn Bronstein: "The editors of the Los Angeles Times decided to stop bowdlerizing the Pussycat copy, figuring if small-town America could tolerate exposure to Deep Throat in the pages of its hallowed news weekly, then Californians could surely handle some movie ads." in Battling Pornography: The American Feminist Anti-pornography Movement; 1976 - 1986. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2013. 63. Print.
3. Blumenthal, Ralph. ""Hard‐core" Grows Fashionable—and Very Profitable." The New York Times. The New York Times, 21 Jan. 1973. Web. 04 Apr. 2017. http://www.nytimes.com/1973/01/21/archives/pornochic-hardcore-grows-fashionableand-very-profitable.html.
4. Safi, Michael. "Reza Aslan Outrages Hindus by Eating Human Brains in CNN Documentary." The Guardian. Guardian News and Media, 10 Mar. 2017. Web. 06 Apr. 2017. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/mar/10/reza-aslan-criticised-for-documentary-on-cannibalistic-hindus.

Wednesday, March 08, 2017

Progressives: Please Help Me Understand International Women's Day


Today is marked as International Women's Day, described as "a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity."1 The Women's March, among other progressive women's rights groups, decided to mark the day by creating "A Day without a Woman" campaign, instructing women to:
  1. Take the day off, from paid and unpaid labor
  2. Avoid shopping for one day (with exceptions for small, women- and minority-owned businesses)
  3. And Wear RED in solidarity with A Day Without A Woman
As a heterosexual white male living in the 21st century, I definitely want to highlight the crucial contributions women have made to our society. But I need some help in understanding just how to go about doing this. Lest I be accused of "mansplaining" or bias because of my sex, I want to ask my progressive friends to help me make better sense of this day and just what it is I'm recognizing.

Question 1: How Do We Mark Achievements Today?

As noted above, this date is set aside to celebrate "the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women," yet women are being instructed to take the day off from labor—to go on strike. Fox News reports that "Several schools in at least four states were closed Wednesday so teachers can participate in ‘A Day Without a Woman' strike in which organizers are urging female workers to stay home."2How does this celebrate achievement? What happens to the female students who are supposed to be taught today? Does losing one day's instruction give them an advantage?

Question 2: How Do We Accelerate Economic Gender Parity?

Perhaps the strike is meant to accelerate gender parity. After all, the day is to be marked with calls to action. Does the fact that these schools closed mean the school districts need to hire more men so the ratio of genders is equal? Should we put quotas in place to ensure parity? What about other jobs where men are in the vast majority, like sanitation engineers or coal miners? Business insider lists these as two of the fifteen most deadly occupations with fatalities per 100,000 workers at 22.8 and 38.9 respectively.3 Christina Hoff Sommers documents how in the top ten highest paying college majors, men overwhelmingly outnumber women in all but one while in the ten least remunerative majors women outnumber the men in all but one. So, how do we accelerate gender parity economically here?

Question 3: How Do We Accelerate Cultural Gender Parity?

Perhaps economic parity isn't the only kind of parity we should strive for. Perhaps we can recognize that women as women offer unique and worthwhile contributions to our society that cannot be measured (or are undervalued) economically. But this seems to get sticky pretty fast. Can I say that women as a gender have a unique view on society and its problems? When the city of Los Angeles was in danger of having an all-male city council, former councilwoman Laura Chick decried the possibility, saying "Shame, shame. Absolutely it makes a difference. Our brains are different. We have different perspectives.... There's something terribly wrong with this."4

But how can this be true if a family requires two loving adults, no matter what their gender? Progressives have been telling me for a long time that children don't need women as mothers, they simply need loving individuals. Gender doesn't matter at all. To create a situation where children are intentionally denied the opportunity for a mother is so inconsequential that it shouldn't even be up for discussion. It certainly shouldn't be considered as a factor when adopting, as Catholic Charites were told, forcing them to shut down their adoption services in Massachusetts.

Question 4: What do You Mean by Woman?

Perhaps the fact that women bear children and are responsible for the lion's share of rearing them is a point to be underscored. But that would mean that the very concept of being a woman is rooted in biology. But according to my progressive friends, that isn't true at all. They say the very idea of gender is simply a social construct. All that is required to be a woman is to identify as a woman. Is that right? But that means I can be celebrated if I choose to identify as a woman today.

The big question in all this is how do we celebrate the achievements of women and rally to gain parity for women when the concept of what a woman is isn't defined? This is probably where I need the most help, as I can't make sense of it at all. If the very definition of what constitutes a woman is up for grabs, then what happens to those gender parity issues? I mean, there are those who deeply identify as football fans or basketball fans. I'm in the minority as a hockey fan. Should I seek a day for celebration of achievement and a call to parity since hockey fans are so underrepresented in society?

I would really love to celebrate women. However, in today's world with all the different messaging going on, I can't figure out just who it is we're celebrating or what kind of achievements qualify to be celebrated. If anyone can help me out, I'd be really appreciative.

References

1. "About International Women's Day." International Women's Day. Aurora Ventures (Europe) Limited., n.d. Web. 08 Mar. 2017. https://www.internationalwomensday.com/About.
2. "'Day Without a Woman' Strike Shuts down Schools as Teachers Bolt." Fox News. FOX News Network, 08 Mar. 2017. Web. 08 Mar. 2017. http://www.foxnews.com/us/2017/03/08/day-without-woman-strike-shuts-schools-down-as-teachers-bolt.html.
3. Lubin Gus and Kevin Lincoln. "The 15 Most Dangerous Jobs In America." Business Insider. Business Insider, 21 Sept. 2011. Web. 08 Mar. 2017. http://www.businessinsider.com/most-dangerous-jobs-2011-9.
4. Newton, Jim. "An All-male City Council?" Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles Times, 1 Apr. 2013. Web. 08 Mar. 2017. http://www.latimes.com/la-oe-newton-column-women-in-los-angeles-politics-20130401-column.html.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

The One Sexual Orientation No One Advocates For



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

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

Inherent and Immutable Sexual Desires

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

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

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

The Desire of Occuposexuals is Like Any Other Sexual Desire

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

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

So Why Is No One Championing the Occuposexual?

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

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

References

1. Becker, John. "LGBT Rights Are Civil Rights." The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, 23 Mar. 2012. Web. 21 Feb. 2017. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/john-becker/lgbt-rights-are-civil-rights_b_1368381.html.
2. "Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Definitions." Human Rights Campaign. Human Rights Campaign, n.d. Web. 21 Feb. 2017. http://www.hrc.org/resources/sexual-orientation-and-gender-identity-terminology-and-definitions.
3. "The Kinsey Scale." The Kinsey Institute. The Trustees of Indiana University, 2017. Web. 21 Feb. 2017.
4. DOLCE84. " I Am Dating a Married Man Story & Experience." The Experience Project. The Experience Project, 5 Sept. 2007. Web. 21 Feb. 2017. http://www.experienceproject.com/stories/Am-Dating-A-Married-Man/54661.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

The Problem of Living in a Crotch-Driven Culture



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

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

Decivilizing Civilization

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

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

Identity from a Crotch-Driven Culture

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, January 08, 2017

Bioethics in the 21st Century (podcast)



We live in a confusing time. Sex is seen as recreational, while pregnancies are disposable. Then, infertile women will pay thousands of dollars for the latest treatments just to have a child. How should Christians make sense of all the new technologies out there? In this four-part series, Lenny reviews the various challenges in this Brave New World of bioethics.

You can subscribe to the Come Reason podcast via iTunes or through our RSS feed.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

The Left is Intent on Making Us Less Human



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

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

Rationality as the Essence of Man

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

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

Arguing for Our Appetites

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

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

Where's the Reason?

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

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

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

References

1. 09, August. "Wrong-Way Run Finally Turns Out." Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles Times, 09 Aug. 1991. Web. 11 July 2016. http://articles.latimes.com/1991-08-09/sports/sp-257_1_rose-bowl-history.

Tuesday, June 07, 2016

Let's Change our Message on Sex (video series)



We live in a sex-saturated culture, one which warps our and our children's understanding. Yet, the church hasn't done a very good job in expressing exactly what the Christian position on sex really is. We hear that sex is bad... unless it is confined to marriage. But that sends a confusing message to our kids. Instead, Christians should understand sex as a reflection of worship.

In this three part series, Lenny explains some of the subtle and not so subtle ways we've come to think about sex and why the standard Christian message of sex as "good when married, but bad any other time" is flawed. He then shows how the most consistent parallel the Bible draw to sex is not something that's dirty, but something that's holy. Finally, Lenny explores how changing our focus of sex from fun to holy changes the dynamic in relationships for husbands, for wives and elevates the calling for those who remain single.

Check out this provocative idea in the videos below:

Part 1 - Sending the Wrong Message



Part 2 - Sex as a Reflection of Worship



Part 3 - How Re-Messaging Sex Changes Relationships


Monday, May 16, 2016

Bloodletting and the Modern Trans Movement



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

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

Biased Assertions Lead to Bad Diagnoses

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

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

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


Fluid Gendered Identity is the Bloodletting of Today

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

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

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


References

1. Martin, Steve. "Theodoric of York: Medieval Barber." Saturday Night Live. Prod. Loren Michaels. NBC. New Yrok, NY, 22 Apr. 1978. NBC. Web. 16 May 2016. http://www.nbc.com/saturday-night-live/video/theodoric-of-york/n8661.
2. Boylan, Michael. "Galen (130—200 C.E.)." Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, n.d. Web. 16 May 2016. http://www.iep.utm.edu/galen/.
3. Boylan, Michael. "Hippocrates (c. 450—c. 380 B.C.E.)." Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, n.d. Web. 16 May 2016. http://www.iep.utm.edu/hippocra/#SH1a.
4. "Galen." Medical Discoveries. Advameg, Inc., n.d. Web. 16 May 2016. http://www.discoveriesinmedicine.com/General-Information-and-Biographies/Galen.html.
5. McHugh, Paul. "Transgender Surgery Isn't the Solution." Wall Street Journal. Dow Jones & Company, Inc., 12 June 2014. Web. 02 June 2015. http://www.wsj.com/articles/paul-mchugh-transgender-surgery-isnt-the-solution-1402615120.
6. Davis, Julie Hirschfield, and Matt Apuzzo. "U.S. Directs Public Schools to Allow Transgender Access to Restrooms." The New York Times. The New York Times, 12 May 2016. Web. 16 May 2016. http://mobile.nytimes.com/2016/05/13/us/politics/obama-administration-to-issue-decree-on-transgender-access-to-school-restrooms.html.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

New-Fangled Values May Hold Old-Fashioned Dangers



Downton Abbey, the BBC series showcasing the way of life of the English aristocracy and their servants proved to be a smash hit on both sides of the Atlantic. For each of its six seasons, audiences would anxiously tune in to watch the Crawley family's exploits as they struggled to adjust from Victorian era mores to that of the modern age.

Part of the attraction of the show was just how foreign the manners and customs of the English aristocracy strike modern viewers. Imagine dressing differently for each meal in tuxedos! The show's expert historian, Alistair Bruce, strove to make the fictional series as historically accurate as he could, although the show is clearly written to reflect 21st century values. For example, the house royalty wouldn't give the servants much of a second thought; they were considered less like employees and more like tools to an end.1 Thus, there's a bit of a wink the writers share with the audience on how quaint and antiquated the customs of the old days were.

Victorian Prudes and Victimless Crimes

It can become easy to assume that old ways of doing things are backwards or naïve. Certainly, this seems to be the case with moral prohibitions concerning sexuality today. Over and over again I hear the claim that because our society is less repressive and sexually freer than in the past, making it somehow better. Casual sex, known as hook-ups, is exploding across college campuses, especially those where the number of female students outweighs the males.2 Sex outside of marriage is considered so normal that virginity is an oddity. Pornography has become rampant, and women are consuming more porn than ever before.3

But is all this really a good thing? Those who would question the sexual liberation and its aftermath are considered out of touch prudes. Sex is what always happens, they say. Porn is just being honest about one's sexual desires; it's one of those victimless pleasures that good people can do in the privacy of their own homes. If the person enjoys it, what's wrong with allowing them to consume it?

In reality, porn is harming a generation of people. The group Plan International, Australia recently completed a survey of teenage girls in that country and revealed some shocking findings:4
  • Seven out of ten Australian girls aged 15-19 believe online harassment and bullying is endemic
  • Australian females aged 15-19 do not want to share sexual photos of themselves online
  • 81% of girls believe it's unacceptable for boyfriends to ask for explicit content although they believe pressure to do so is now commonplace
According to a 2012 report in the scholarly journal Sexual Addiction & Compulsivity and reported by ABC Religion and Ethics:
Adolescent consumption of Internet pornography was linked to attitudinal changes, including acceptance of male dominance and female submission as the primary sexual paradigm, with women viewed as "sexual playthings eager to fulfil male sexual desires." The authors found that "adolescents who are intentionally exposed to violent sexually explicit material were six times more likely to be sexually aggressive than those who were not exposed."5
I recommend you read the whole article. But is seems pretty evident that our sexually charged culture is not helping people become better human beings. In fact, the results of porn are actually harming women and young girls. They are becoming more victimized and more objectified. Today's open sex culture is not advancing women, it's degrading them.

The old-fashioned folks of early 20th century England would never hear of such open displays of lasciviousness. They recognized the difference between a man's higher nature and his base nature. The higher nature consists of rationality, self-control, moral uprightness. Man's base nature is one that could be found in animals, consisting of satisfying appetites and desires, reacting based on emotion, and so on. Constraining those base natures requires diligence and practice. It doesn't come automatically. But not constraining them leads to the dehumanization of people. Just look at what those 15-19 year old girls in Australia are experiencing.

References

1. Lee, Adrian. "The Real Life Downton Abbey: The True Story of Servants." Express. Northern and Shell Media Publications, 25 Sept. 2012. Web. 30 Mar. 2016. http://www.express.co.uk/expressyourself/348130/The-real-life-Downton-Abbey-The-true-story-of-servants.
2. Birger, Jon. "Unequal Gender Ratios at Colleges Are Driving Hookup Culture." Time. Time, 15 Oct. 2015. Web. 30 Mar. 2016. http://time.com/money/4072951/college-gender-ratios-dating-hook-up-culture/.
3. Carey, Tanith. "Why More and More Women Are Using Pornography." The Guardian. Guardian News and Media, 07 Apr. 2011. Web. 30 Mar. 2016. http://www.theguardian.com/culture/2011/apr/07/women-addicted-internet-pornography.
4. "Don't Send Me That Pic." Plan International. Plan International Australia, Mar. 2016. Web. 30 Mar. 2016. https://www.plan.org.au/learn/who-we-are/blog/2016/03/02/dont-send-me-that-pic.0020
5. Liszewski, Melinda. "Growing Up in Pornland: Girls Have Had It with Porn Conditioned Boys." Collective Shout. ABC Religion and Ethics, 8 Mar. 2016. Web. 30 Mar. 2016. http://www.collectiveshout.org/growing_up_in_pornland_girls_have_had_it_with_porn_conditioned_boys.

Thursday, November 05, 2015

Why Would God Command Women to Marry Their Rapists?


Recently I've had a few different people ask me about the passage in Deuteronomy dealing with a young woman who has been raped. One was by an atheist, the other by a Christian. Both thought that the passage painted God as a cruel misogynist who would have a woman doubly punished for a crime committed against her. Here is how the Christian lady phrased it:
Did God approve of moses law? I am referring to women. If a woman had a female child she was unclean double the time. If a girl was raped she had to marry her rapist. Seems like women were less than. I can't imagine God being ok with that? Thanks !!
While the idea of setting a law where the rapist marries his victim seems shocking to us today, once the passage is placed into its proper textual and historical context, one can see just how important the law was to protect women.

God Did Not Command Women to Marry Their Rapists

The passage in question comes from Deuteronomy 22, where God is laying out certain ways of dealing with different sexual sins. In verses 23-29, the law takes into account different scenarios of rape. Let's take the first two scenarios offered:
If there is a betrothed virgin, and a man meets her in the city and lies with her, then you shall bring them both out to the gate of that city, and you shall stone them to death with stones, the young woman because she did not cry for help though she was in the city, and the man because he violated his neighbor's wife. So you shall purge the evil from your midst.

But if in the open country a man meets a young woman who is betrothed, and the man seizes her and lies with her, then only the man who lay with her shall die. But you shall do nothing to the young woman; she has committed no offense punishable by death. For this case is like that of a man attacking and murdering his neighbor, because he met her in the open country, and though the betrothed young woman cried for help there was no one to rescue her.
Notice that in neither of these cases is there mentioned anything about a woman marrying her rapist. In the first instance, the woman is betrothed and she is found with another man within a populated area, where she could've called for help but didn't. This law is to root out adulterous relationships whereby the female later claims it was rape. In the second instance, the woman is given the benefit of the doubt, since the area is unpopulated.
It is verses 28-29 that cause all the fuss:
If a man meets a virgin who is not betrothed, and seizes her and lies with her, and they are found, then the man who lay with her shall give to the father of the young woman fifty shekels of silver, and she shall be his wife, because he has violated her. He may not divorce her all his days.
The key to understanding this passage is twofold: understanding the opportunities available to women in this culture and understanding who the mandate is addressing. One must remember this law is written to govern the nation of Israel's legal system in the Late Bronze Age. A young woman who was not a virgin was not considered marriageable material. A young woman who was raped or was promiscuous would have been considered "damaged goods," especially since the land was to be passed down from father to son. The loss of virginity prior to marriage would call that direct line of paternity into question.

How Would Women in the Ancient World Survive?

Secondly, women had no real way to live independently from a man, especially if she had no land to live on. Without a husband, a woman who is unlikely to be married has nowhere to live except in the house of her father. She would be dependent upon either her father's kindness or her husband's to sustain her life. This is why in the book of Ruth we see Naomi telling her two young widowed daughters-in-law that they would fare better in their fathers' houses than risk fending for themselves in Israel.

Lastly, if the father felt his house was shamed by the crime (an unfortunate but very clear possibility), he may not even allow her to stay in the house. Understanding these concepts, it should be clear that rape in the Ancient Near East was not merely a crime against the personal autonomy and emotional well-being of a woman, but it could quite literally have been a death sentence for her!

Thus, when we look at the command given, we can read it with a proper perspective. Notice that the command is not to the woman. It does not say "you shall marry your rapist." What it says is any man who takes the virginity of the woman must be ready to provide for her for the rest of her life as a wife. Since he stole the most valuable of her possessions, her ability to marry, he is obligated to marry her himself so she won't die.

One more important point to remember; the obligation does not go both ways. Deuteronomy 22 is expanding on the law given in Exodus 22:16-17. There, we read. "If a man seduces a virgin who is not betrothed and lies with her, he shall give the bride-price for her and make her his wife. If her father utterly refuses to give her to him, he shall pay money equal to the bride-price for virgins." Notice that the father of the girl has a right of refusal. He can say "You're a creep and you will have to pay, but you're not coming near her."

So the law on a man who takes the virginity of a woman must also be ready to marry her is not punitive for the woman; it's actually protective. It ensures she won't be tossed away as "damaged goods" but will be provided for. It also emphasizes that promiscuity is a serious matter. The father of the woman can protect his daughter from vicious rapists while also forcing kids who "were just fooling around" to make their relationship permanent. This isn't a misogynistic command but one meant to protect young girls' lives. We simply need to understand the culture in which it was applied.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Rebelling Against the Lovable Lothario



Entertainment has an enormous impact on our understanding of the world. It's important that we not only watch with a critical mindset ourselves, but that we talk with our kids about what they see.

Film and television can manufacture characters through whom we see ourselves. Sometimes the characters live an idealized life, such as super-hero stories or spy adventures. Mostly, though, the main characters are put into situations where while they have a heart of gold, they must struggle and work through those flaws they will eventually overcome with enough persistence.

Sitcoms like Friends and How I Met your Mother work off this premise. Both shows start with a young, educated but struggling to make it group of 20-somethings carving lives out for themselves in greater Manhattan. Both series follow an arc showing how each person in the group eventually achieves success, usually an unbelievably high level; of success, in their professional lives and how their friends have carried them along the way.

Friendship is a key element in many of these shows, so it should be no surprise that they are highly attractive to teenagers, whose emotional development begins to rearrange the priority of their relationships. As children reach puberty, they start to try and define themselves as individuals and place greater emphasis on their own friendships while lowering their reliance on their relationships with their parents. Thus, when adolescents watch these shows, they naturally fantasize about living a similar life: hip, urban, independent with their friends surrounding them.

Of course, sitcoms have another purpose, too. They are designed to make the audience laugh, so they need to build in outrageous situations and characters, too. Generating jokes each week is no easy task, and many series have leveraged a sure-fire way for generating a multitude of jokes—what I call the lovable lothario. Characters like Joey Tribbiani or Barney Stinson are persons who sleep around and generally treat women more as trophies to be counted than human beings worthy of respect. They're attractive and skilled in the mechanics of seducing women and there's an endless supply of cheap floozies ready to agree to their advances.

Of course, the shows don't want to give too much credence to demeaning women, so we see them get slapped in the face or rebuked by their friends with a wag of the head and a disapproving "tsk, tsk" as well. But the friends know that underneath it all they really have a heart of gold and they just need to grow up a bit and they'll be fine. The message is subtle, but it reduces the terrible act of manipulating another person to get pleasure with no regard for their feelings or their future to a character flaw akin to being too geeky or being a perfectionist.

Who Would Really Stay Friends with Such a Person?

None of this is a revelation to anyone. Yet, I must wonder how many of us have asked our children if such a person is worthy of being called a friend in the real world? What would happen if we discovered that one of the people in our clan behaved in a way similar to the lovable lothario? Is the well-being of those women valuable enough to distance a person of that Ilk from their group? Would their reputations suffer simply as a result of befriending such an individual? Would it matter if it was their sister that was being manipulated so? If not, why does television make it seem the lothario is basically a good person? How many times does one person have to use someone else before he should be considered not loving but dangerous? These are all great questions we should be asking our kids.

I don't think the lovable lothario exists in real life. If one is that crass and selfish to take the most intimate of acts and leverage it for nothing more than personal pleasure, I see no way anyone like that can maintain a heart of gold. Real people cry real tears from being used. And to be fair, I don't think sitcom producers want anyone to model themselves after the lovable lothario, either. He's an extreme persona, but he helps demonstrate that the regular carnality of the other characters can be excused as being not so bad in comparison. We need to counter that message by really talking with our kids and asking them to think through real world perspectives. Such will go a long way in helping them to spot and reject the problematic values entertainment seeks to inject into their lives.

Monday, August 31, 2015

Christian Morals Make Us More Free



What is true freedom? Does having fewer restrictions make one more free? That's the message advertisers would foist on our kids. From the No Rules skateboard apparel to yesterday's MTV Video Music Awards where Miley Cyrus was given "pretty free reign… no rules,"1 to Ashley Madison's come-on slogan of "Life is short… have an affair, " the message is unmistakable: freedom means shedding the moral restrictions of the past.

It's part of people's nature to bristle against rules, especially those rules that would force one to curb his or her predilections. Children would rather eat candy than vegetables for dinner. Students would rather play video games than study. Most adults in society today look upon those desires as childish. They understand there are real consequences to taking the easy road. Ignoring the nutritional needs of one's body or educational opportunities that color one's future isn't a freeing experience; they have real and significant consequences.

Given the serious consequences of childish actions, people have come to realize that it is actually more freeing to live within these rules. The person who studied hard in school and has earned a degree has many more opportunities in front of him than one who didn't. The person who eats well has the freedom to perform better in sports. Freedom isn't about the next few hours or the next few days, but what happens over a lifetime.

Christian Morality is Freeing

While people generally agree on the obvious examples I offered above, this principle of freedom applies within the moral realm as well. Marvin Olasky recently interviewed University of Texas philosophy professor J. Budziszewski on the changes in attitude college students display today as opposed to years past. Budziszewski has been a keen observer of the difficulties Christian students face when entering college, and given our sex-saturated culture, the temptations for easy sexual hook-ups is everywhere. When asked about what the church can do about all the young people leaving their faith in college, Budziszewski answered:
We haven't a chance of getting people to live a Christian way of life if they think it is just a collection of joy-killing rules. What we should explain is that Christian morality is a prerequisite for happiness, and that it makes us more free, not less—free to do what is good rather than being jerked around by desires. People need to have the vision of the good that temptation is pulling them away from.2
This is a crucial message that the church hasn't communicated very well at all. We've turned sex into a series of "thou shalt not's" instead of emphasizing the holiness of sex. We've warned against the ways of the world in ominous tones instead of talking with kids about just how much freedom one gains when one works at developing the good in one's life. Gratification delayed does not mean gratification denied, it simply means you will have the freedom to experience the full joys of what God has intended for you without the nasty consequences. There will be more choices afforded to you and you will have more control over your life's path.

References

1. Boardman, Madeline. "VMAs Producer: Miley Cyrus Has 'free Rein,' No Rules for Sunday's Show." EW.com. Entertainment Weekly Inc, 27 Aug. 2015. Web. 31 Aug. 2015. http://www.ew.com/article/2015/08/27/vma-miley-cyrus-free-rein-no-rules.
2. Olasky, Marvin. "J. Budziszewski: Generation Disordered" WORLD. WORLD News Group, 21 Aug. 2015. Web. 31 Aug. 2015. http://www.worldmag.com/2015/08/generation_disordered/.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Learning about Sexual Purity from A Christmas Story



Everyone loves the holiday movie A Christmas Story. It's become a family favorite in my house. It can also be useful as an illustration when talking about difficult issues such as sexual purity with your children. Check out this short video that helps kids understand a little of what they may lose by becoming sexually promiscuous.

Wednesday, March 04, 2015

How Rational Are Rationalists When It Comes to Sex?

In his book God is Not Great, Christopher Hitchens writes, "Our belief is not a belief. Our principles are not a faith. We do not rely solely upon science and reason, because these are necessary rather than sufficient factors, but we distrust anything that contradicts science or outrages reason."1 It seems one of the more popular slogans that modern atheists like to banter about is the claim that they are not motivate by "ancient superstition" but by "logic and reason." There is even a t-shirt that says the same. The popular 2012 atheists’ conference was even named The Reason Rally. The claim to uphold reason above all is frequently repeated to me by those in the freethought movement.

Yet, there seems to be something else going on. More and more prominent atheists hold to a very liberal sexual ethic, announcing their "sexual orientation" shuns monogamy for multiple sexual partners,2  or have had their fair share of promiscuous flings.3 The American Atheists and the Backyard Skeptics co-sponsored a billboard proclaiming "Atheists make better lovers. (After all, nobody’s watching.)" Spokesman Bruce Gleason states, "Atheists make better lovers because they have less guilt about sex, while people believing in religious superstitions attach a negative aspect to sex. We do not think a supernatural deity is watching us — neither in life nor in bed."4


Aquinas on Reason and Passion

I want to stop here and clarify what I'm trying to say. I am not saying that just because someone is an atheist it means he or she is more sexually loose than others. But the claim to hold rationality seems to be contrary to the positions taken by the examples above. Thomas Aquinas recognized over 800 years ago that human beings had certain biological drives for sex, hunger, and other natural impulses—Aquinas called these "passions of the soul"—that we share with animals. These are necessary as they provide the drive for species to thrive and reproduce. But Aquinas also recognized that human beings have a unique aspect of the soul that animals do not have: the ability to reason. We have the ability to see our actions and to measure their ultimate ends. Will certain actions enforce rationality and self-control or will they simply strengthen the animal appetites? Aquinas holds in order to express one’s full humanity, reason must rule over and control the passions.5

Appetites are not good and bad in themselves, but they must be subjected to and governed by the faculties of reason, and they must help to strengthen our rational souls. Allowing any carnal desire or passion to become the driving force in a person’s life is inherently antithetical to reason. I agree with this. Today, if one lives to satisfy his or her urges or biological desires, we would classify that person as uncivilized.  But succumbing to such drives doesn't demonstrate that a person is more rational. On Aquinas’ view it would show quite the opposite.

The Irrationality of Atheist Sexual Promiscuity

Now, here’s the problem. If atheist principles "rely solely upon science and reason" as Hitchens claims, then why are so many atheists bowing to those animal passions as a driving force in their lives? How is the claim of polyamory as a sexual orientation applying the principles of logic and reason? Are groups like the Godless Perverts placing their passions under the control of their reasoning or are they seeking to express their animal desires? As more atheists identify with a loose sexual ethic, are they bolstering reason or strengthening the animal impulse?

In Sex & God: How Religion Distorts Reality, Darrel Ray writes, "Fear is the foreplay of religion. If done right, it interferes with all aspects of human sexual pleasure."6 One may claim that religion done right interferes with all aspects of human sexual pleasure only if one assumes that any sexual predilections are good and should be acted upon. But this is contrary to reason, which allows us to master our activities and keep our sexual urges under control. When Christian theology teaches that we should keep our animal passions in subjugation, it elevates humans to beings that are capable of living above their animal passions. Sexual restraint and monogamy demonstrate just how reasonable Christianity is.

References

1. Hitchens, Christopher (2007-05-01). God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything (p. 8). Twelve Books. Kindle Edition.
2. "Coming Out Poly + A Change of Life Venue." Richard Carrier Blogs. Freethoughtblogs.com, 18 Feb. 2015. Web. 04 Mar. 2015. http://freethoughtblogs.com/carrier/archives/6737.
3. Lee, Adam. "The Wall of Silence Around Michael Shermer." Daylight Atheism. Patheos.com, 29 Sept. 2014. Web. 04 Mar. 2015. http://www.patheos.com/blogs/daylightatheism/2014/09/the-wall-of-silence-around-michael-shermer/.
4. Mehta, Hemant. "Atheists Make Better Lovers, Says Billboard." Friendly Atheist. Patheos, 115 Feb. 2012. Web. 04 Mar. 2015. http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/2012/02/15/atheists-make-better-lovers-says-billboard/.
5. Aquinas, Thomas. "The Summa Theologica: I-II.24.1." Summa Theologica. Christian Classics Ethereal Library, 11 Jan. 2007. Web. 04 Mar. 2015. http://www.ccel.org/ccel/aquinas/summa/FS/FS024.html#FSQ24OUTP1.
6. Ray, Darrel. Sex & God: How Religion Distorts Reality. Bonner Springs, KS: IPC, 2012. Print. 26.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Exposing Our Kids to a More Dangerous Epidemic than Measles

What does Disneyland and a measles outbreak have to do with apologetics? It draws an interesting parallel.

Measles is making the headlines in Southern California. Between December 17 and 20th, one or more visitors to Disneyland in Anaheim had the contagious disease. Within a month of that visit, there have been at least 54 cases of measles reported across Southern California, three neighboring states, and Mexico, according to the Los Angeles Times. Health officials in Orange County are trying to stem its spread by ordering some 50,000 children to stay home from school because they hadn't been properly vaccinated. 1


Officials have stated that the outbreak is the worst the state has seen in fifteen years, yet if you don't live close to the Magic Kingdom, you may find all of this marginally interesting. Until you discover the reason for the rapid spread of the disease: parents choosing not to vaccinate their children. According to the Times article, "Orange County is home to several upscale communities where a higher than average number of parents have opted to not fully vaccinate their children because of their personal beliefs" that vaccinating children may have some link to autism. 2 The science on this is faulty, as the Centers for Disease Control reports. Yet parents say they don't want to take the risk of even a possibility of a vaccine having some tie to autism. Thus, they choose to not vaccinate their children.

Living off Others' Beliefs

Here's the interesting thing in all of this. The parents who are not vaccinating their children truly believe they are protecting them. One parent was quoted in the article saying, "I didn't want to flood her system with a bunch of chemicals all at once. I wanted to be informed and not trust what medical professionals said." But the only reason she would come to the conclusion that not vaccinating her child was safer is simply because she was living at a time when most children had already been vaccinated against measles, mumps, and other childhood diseases. Now, as vaccination rates falls in certain areas, the threat of measles and other life-damaging diseases is on the increase.

I find this is true of our culture's abandonment of Christian values as well. We are now coasting on the remnants of a culture that was anchored in Judeo-Christian values, but its rapidly changing. Over 40% of children born in 2012 were born out of wedlock.3 That's almost half! And with teenage birthrates dropping, the report shows that a significant number of adults are simply choosing not to marry, but to have children anyway. As you can see in the graph below, this trend has increased exponentially since the 1960s, according to the CDC.4


The Plague of the Disappearing Nuclear Family

In 1992, Vice Presidential candidate Dan Quayle was publicly ridiculed for saying bearing children out of wedlock was wrong and it shouldn't be labeled as "just another lifestyle choice."5 The position taken by folks on the left like Diane English (the producer and writer of the CBS sitcom Murphy Brown) is that Quayle was being ridiculous and backwards. Progressive individuals didn't think marriage was necessary to raising a child. Only love is. But many reports like this one from ChildTrends show "the image projected by movie stars or well-educated, well-paid professional women who choose unwed motherhood has little in common with the situation of most unmarried mothers." 6 That reports states the reality that both women who have unmarried births and their children are:
at a distinct disadvantage as they move through life. Statistically, mothers who bear and raise children without the support of a husband are more likely to be poor and to report greater stress than their married counterparts, and their children are more likely to have academic and behavioral problems. Research findings show that wanted children raised by both of their biological parents in a low-conflict marriage have an easier lot in life and the best chance for healthy development.7
While it was easy in the 80s and 90s to pronounce a progressive view of raising children alone, that ease was facilitated by the fact that children in those situations were invisible and harder to quantify. As children of unwed mothers increase, the effects become more pronounced and they affect all other socio-economic groups as well. Just as the unvaccinated children were borrowing the immunization of the larger community to assert that their choices were good for their children, so the liberal viewpoint that the traditional family unit is unnecessary borrowed from the stability previous generations that were the product of that traditional union brought.

The biggest difference I see is that while public officials are reacting to the measles epidemic by seeking to quarantine those infected and requiring vaccinations before children can return to school, no one in government is trying to stem the more insidious evil of out of wedlock births. As parents see the risks to the well-being of their children, they are now seeking vaccinations. Unfortunately, there is no simple shot that can sure the problem of a generation of kids growing up without a traditional family.

References

1. Lin, Rong-Gong, II, Roxanna Xia, and Nicole Knight Shine. "In Measles Battle, O.C. Bars Two Dozen Students Lacking Proof of Shots." The Los Angeles Times 21 Jan. 2015: A1. Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles Times, 21 Jan. 2015. Web. 21 Jan. 2015. http://www.latimes.com/local/orangecounty/la-me-measles-huntington-beach-20150121-story.html#page=1.
2. Lin, et al. A1.
3. Hamilton BE, Martin JA, Ventura SJ. "Births: Preliminary data for 2012." National Vital Statistics Reports; vol. 62 no 3. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics. 2013. Web. http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nvsr/nvsr62/nvsr62_03.pdf
4. Ventura SJ, Bachrach CA. "Nonmarital Childbearing in the United States, 1940-1999." National Vital Statistics Reports; vol 48 no 16. Hyattsville, Maryland: National Center for Health Statistics. 2000. Web. http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nvsr/nvsr48/nvs48_16.pdf
5. Sawhill, Isabel. "20 Years Later, It Turns out Dan Quayle Was Right about Murphy Brown and Unmarried Moms." Washington Post. The Washington Post, 25 May 2012. Web. 21 Jan. 2015. http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/20-years-later-it-turns-out-dan-quayle-was-right-about-murphy-brown-and-unmarried-moms/2012/05/25/gJQAsNCJqU_story.html
6. Terry-Humen, Elizabeth, M.P.P., Jennifer Manlove, PhD, and Kristin A. Moore, PhD. "Births Outside of Marriage: Perceptions vs. Reality." Child Trends Research Briefs (April, 2001): Child Trends. Apr. 2001. Web. 21 Jan. 2015. http://www.childtrends.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/rb_032601.pdf.
7. Terry-Humen, et al. 2001.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Why Our Culture's Value of Feelings Will Be Its Downfall

How much do your feelings matter? Are they the most important thing in deciding whether you're living a successful life? Many people think so. Just this week Ezekiel Emanuel, the director of the Clinical Bioethics Department at the U.S. National Institutes of Health, published an article in the Atlantic saying that death at 75 should be the goal for healthy living.1 After that, he will refuse testing and treatment—including simple things like flu shots or antibiotics—and seek to take on death where it may be found. His reasoning? Emanuel says, "I want to celebrate my life while I am still in my prime" and he simply thinks that after 75his life would no longer be good, but simply "succumbing to that slow constriction of activities and aspirations imperceptibly imposed by aging."2 Emanuel sees the good life as the one in which he feels good.



 Emanuel's reasoning is an example of what sociologist Pitirim Sorokin called the Sensate culture.  Writing in the early 20th century, Sorokin noticed that cultures seem to be aligned into a couple of dominant types: societies that emphasize the spiritual aspects of existence and believe in things such as religion, transcendent values and morality above the physical he labeled "Ideational." Those who devalued or dismissed the spiritual and held the material world as the true reality and the guiding principle of life he labeled as "Sensate".3

Sorokin stated that we are not only in a Sensate culture, but one that is falling apart due to its own excesses. John Uebersax quotes Sorokin in saying:
In the twentieth century the magnificent sensate house of Western man began to deteriorate rapidly and then to crumble. There was, among other things, a disintegration of its moral, legal, and other values which, from within, control and guide the behavior of individuals and groups. When human beings cease to be controlled by deeply interiorized religious, ethical, aesthetic and other values, individuals and groups become the victims of crude power and fraud as the supreme controlling forces of their behavior, relationship, and destiny. In such circumstances, man turns into a human animal driven mainly by his biological urges, passions, and lust. Individual and collective unrestricted egotism flares up; a struggle for existence intensifies; might becomes right; and wars, bloody revolutions, crime, and other forms of interhuman strife and bestiality explode on an unprecedented scale. So it was in all great transitory periods. (BT, 1964, p. 24)
The "passions and lust" that Sorokin mentions above were stated in more detail in a book he published entitled The American Sex Revolution. Written in the 1950s, well before the age of the Pill and free love, he writes, "every phase of our culture has been invaded by sex. Our civilization has become so preoccupied with sex that it now oozes from all pores of American life.... Whatever aspect of our culture is considered, each is packed with sex obsession."

And Sorokin nails the last seventy years. According to Russell Nieli, his book predicts basically all the social ills we face today:
The harmful trends that Sorokin described in his book, many of which were cause for only moderate concern in their own time, would become much more extreme in subsequent decades, and today are generally acknowledged as a major source of social and cultural decline in what is not inaccurately described as a "post- Christian" West. These include declining birth rates and diminished parental commitment to the welfare of children; vastly increased erotic content in movies, plays, novels, magazines, television shows, radio programs, song lyrics, and commercial advertising; increased divorce, promiscuity, premarital sex, extramarital sex, homosexuality, spousal abandonment, and out-of-wedlock births; and related to these developments, a growing increase in juvenile delinquency, psychological depression, and mental disorders of every description. So extreme have some of these trends become, particularly since the late 1960s, that many today can look back nostalgically upon the 1950s when Sorokin issued his warnings as a period of great social stability, "family values," and dedication to traditional Christian understandings of sex, marriage, and child rearing.4
Our culture's overemphasis on sex is a result of its overemphasis on the material, to the detriment of the spiritual. Truth is relative and life isn't lived for a higher purpose, but for those things that makes one feel good, the result being that society devolves into self-pleasing beings who only see value in whatever feels good. Thus we get someone like Emanuel, a key bioethicist who was one of the chief architects of Obamacare stating that he thinks prolonging his life after 75 is a waste. Is that important? Does it worry you?

Our Sensate culture cannot continue, according to Sorokin. I think he's right. By valuing the material over the ideational, Sorokin says that we have set ourselves up to either perish or change. Which will it be?

References

1. Emanuel, Ezekiel J. "Why I Hope to Die at 75." The Atlantic. Atlantic Media Company, 17 Sept. 2014. Web. 25 Sept. 2014. http://www.theatlantic.com/features/archive/2014/09/why-i-hope-to-die-at-75/379329/.
2. Ibid.
3. Uebersax, John, PhD. "Culture in Crisis: The Visionary Theories of Pitirim Sorokin." Satyagraha. Satyagraha, 19 Aug. 2010. Web. 25 Sept. 2014. http://satyagraha.wordpress.com/2010/08/19/pitirim-sorkin-crisis-of-modernity/.
4. Nieli, Russel. "Critic of the Sensate Culture: Rediscovering the Genius of Pitirim Sorokin." The Political Science Reviewer. Intercollegiate Studies Institute. 266.
Image courtesy Tom Morris. Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

The insanity of denying differences between the sexes

I enjoy parody as much as the next guy. Articles like those from The Onion are funny because they take a position and ridicule it through exaggeration. That's why I was completely surprised when I saw an article by Christin Scarlett Milloy entitled "Don't Let the Doctor Do This to Your Newborn" on Slate's web site and not the Onion.


In the article, Milloy paints a picture of a woman who has just given birth holding her infant when the doctor walks in and ominously announces that the newborn is due for its "treatment" which will give the child some social advantages, but also runs a risk of dangerous side effects. Milloy puts these in the mouth of the doctor:
"Oh, in 1 or 2 percent of cases, we see long-term negative reactions to this," he says with a hint of distaste. "It leads to depression, social ostracism, difficulty finding or keeping a job. Those with negative reactions often become subject to intense discrimination in society. Suicide is not uncommon."1
Then, with a theatrical flourish, Milloy supposedly drops the bomb:
It seems unlikely that doctors, hospitals, parents, or society in general would tolerate a standard practice like this.

Except they already do. The imaginary treatment I described above is real. Obstetricians, doctors, and midwives commit this procedure on infants every single day, in every single country. In reality, this treatment is performed almost universally without even asking for the parents' consent, making this practice all the more insidious. It's called infant gender assignment: When the doctor holds your child up to the harsh light of the delivery room, looks between its legs, and declares his opinion: It's a boy or a girl, based on nothing more than a cursory assessment of your offspring's genitals.2
Oh, please. You note the quick dismissal of sex as "nothing more than a cursory assessment of your offspring's genitals." That's what those who promote sexual fluidity would have us believe. The reality is that every cell of one's body defines one's sex. Even high school biology students know this; human beings have 23 pairs of genes and the last set is either XX or XY, which determines one's sex. Those chromosomes begin a process that change hormone development, brain development, muscle mass, and bone physiology. Basically, they change the entire person's anatomy.

Because a man's or woman's sex is coded into the very DNA of an individual, it's a bit more than disingenuous to claim that we don't have to identify a child's sex at birth. Even those who claim to be transsexuals cannot have any kind of surgery to remove the offending chromosome from their system. They simply wish to pretend it doesn't exist. However, as I've written before, surgery to make one appear physically as the other sex isn't the answer. Walt Heyer, a former transsexual himself, reports that Transgender suicide death rate is at 30% regardless of whether one has had transformative surgery or not:

One out of every 3 transgenders, even after undergoing a surgical gender change, will die from suicide. Gender surgery is no help in preventing or reducing transgender suicide deaths. More than 40% of transgenders will attempt suicide and 30% will not survive the attempts and die.3

This argues that the condition of not identifying with one's sex is a mental illness which can never be treated with a plastic surgeon's scalpel.

 Milloy, if you hadn't guessed already, identifies as a transsexual and is an activist for transsexual issues, and the bias is evident in every paragraph of the article, except one. In his opening sentence he writes, "Imagine you are in recovery from labor, lying in bed, holding your infant. In your arms you cradle a stunningly beautiful, perfect little being." There is simply no way a person born with an XY set of chromosomes is in view here. He is addressing a mother who has just given birth, and no amount of fear-mongering can spin that role to something else. He later writes:
We tell our children, "You can be anything you want to be." We say, "A girl can be a doctor, a boy can be a nurse," but why in the first place must this person be a boy and that person be a girl? Your infant is an infant... The world is full of possibilities that every person deserves to be able to explore freely, receiving equal respect and human dignity while maximizing happiness through individual expression.
The problem is that a boy cannot be a mother and a girl cannot be a father, no matter how much they want to be. Such roles are not up for grabs. They are too important. The survival of the human race relies on infants having XX or XY chromosomes. Without both, we can never produce another generation. To flippantly dismiss those very real differences as meaningless shows that Milloy would damn the necessary in order to maximize his own happiness. Now that I think about it, it doesn't strike me as funny.

References

1. Milloy, Christin Scarlett. "Don't Let the Doctor Do This to Your Newborn." Slate Magzine. The Slate Group, LLC. Web. 26 June 2014. http://www.slate.com/blogs/outward/2014/06/26/infant_gender_assignment_unnecessary_and_potentially_harmful.html Accessed 2 July 2014.
2. Milloy. Ibid.
3. Heyer, Walt. "Transgenders suicide death rate at 30%." Sex Change Info. Web. 29 Dec 2012. http://waltheyer.typepad.com/blog/2012/12/transgenders-suicide-death-rate-at-30.html Accessed 2 July 2014.

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