The voices of children reared in same-sex “marriages” should be heard, too

Same-Sex Parents Icon
We’ve heard from the guys on the right and the left. How about the little guy in the middle? (Image from the Regnerus Fallout website; see link in post)

For years, studies have looked at the impact on children of having homes broken by divorce and by single parenting. The conclusions are universal that it is generally healthiest for children to be reared in a family with a married mother and a father. This is not to call families in which one parent has died or in which the parents are divorced “non-families,” but it is a matter of recognizing that children in such families are in a position that is not as healthy for them as it would be otherwise. One can’t help make up for a deficit without at least recognizing that a deficit exists.

Eyes now turn to the children of homosexual and transgender parents, but to listen to the most readily available reports they don’t seem to include a critical eye among them. Rather, they seem to be eyes already set, a priori, to be approving and accepting of whatever they see. But there are important voices we should hear when it comes to those circumstances.

Massive, undisciplined, parenthetical aside: Some might assume I am speaking of the Regnerus study concerning the impact of having same-sex parents. I am not. That said, though, I am not ignoring it because there is anything wrong with the Regnerus study, even if that is the message the media and homosexual activists would want you to think, as typified by the (so-called) Human Rights Campaign’s mostly defunct “Regnerus Fallout” website. In all the many ways in which the study, its results, and the scientist behind it were attacked, the study was vindicated as solid science–a fact which its attackers seem to ignore or remain unwilling to report with quite the same passion they possessed in their unfounded attacks. In fact, to date it is one of the most (if not the most) solid scientific examinations and explorations of the potential impact of having a homosexual parent. For instance, unlike many “studies” that preceded it, the Regnerus study began with a large sample base that used random subjects as opposed to “convenience samples” of smaller size. Some critique the study for its very few “stable” homosexual families instead of recognizing the important point that such stable families were frankly hard to find in the original sample of 15,000 people.

Ask the frankly honest homosexual authors of After the Ball why that might be. As Marshall Kirk and Hunter Masden admit in their own work about how to sell homosexuality to America (a work that has clearly been influential and followed to a “T”), comparing faulty heterosexual marriage fidelity to that of “committed” homosexuals: “[S]urely the cheating ratio of ‘married’ gay males, given enough time, approaches 100%.”

Sorry–that was a too tempting distraction from what I want to say. Put all of that aside. The voices of scientists like Mark Regnerus aren’t the voices I’m talking about in the title.

I’m talking about the voices of children, themselves, who have grown up in households with homosexual–and transexual–parents and who explain that, based on their own experience, that it is not a healthy place to be. And there are the voices of homosexuals, themselves, who recognize that there is nothing “equivalent” about their relationships and their capacity to be “married parents” for a child–voices which the influential in their own community don’t seem to welcome.

Aside from God’s own voice (which increasingly fewer people are interested in listening to), these may be the most relevant voices in the discussion, but they are the voices I don’t hear from news programs or in mainstream publications. If you’ve seen or heard an interview with such a person, let me know.

I’d like this post to be a place where I can curate such voices. If you come across more, feel free to let me know.

  • Heather Barwick’s story–a tale of “Heather Has Two Mommies” in real life–was the first I encountered here, and is very accessible and well written: “Dear Gay Community: Your Kids Are Hurting”
  • Robert Oscar Lopez, reared by two homosexual women, has written in multiple places, such as here and here, but I first came across him here in First Things.
  • Testimony of Katy Faust, Dawn Stefanowicz, B. N. Klein, and, again, Robert Oscar Lopez in the Washington Times.
  • Dolce & Gabbana’s comments are covered here. Google for more; it was quite a splash when it took place.
  • “We Are ‘Synthetic Children’ And We Agree With Dolce & Gabbana” — article by Hattie Hart and Alana Newman. Focuses on the effects of being conceived through artificial means and not living with both biological parents, not necessarily having homosexual parents, though, clearly, the latter requires the former. Even from the most dismissive point of view, one must agree that their comments concern growing up in a “family” situation other than being reared by one’s biological mother and father.
  • “I’m Gay, and I Oppose Same-Sex Marriage” — an article in The Federalist written by a homosexual man under a pseudonym, Paul Rosnick, presumably because he knows what his opinion would do to his standing with those in his community. Not a child of homosexual parents, but a voice in that community who recognizes the truth of the matter and is honest enough to admit it.
  • Great article by Denise Shick, “Children of Transgender Parents Deserve a Voice.” Her comment there is, essentially, the point of this particular post: “It should not only be only the adults whose voices are heard. The children who come from untraditional homes should be equally important.” More: “Children like me who grew up in painfully untraditional homes are not allowed the freedom to voice their true feelings in a society ruled by political correctness and the LGBT agenda. Most of us don’t even recognize what our circumstances cost us until we are adults, and in some situations not until one or both living parents are no longer with us. At that point we might comprehend it all and finally be able to express what our lost childhoods have done to the remainder of our lives.”

I will add more articles as I come across them here and there (and as I remember to do so). It seems to me that these are voices that should be heard in all of this discussion, and they are the very voices that no one is looking for — even worse, voices that many assume do not exist. They are certainly voices many do not want to exist. Yet, there they are.

I don’t want to pretend that there aren’t many voices out there of now-adult children of same-sex couples who claim to have had a pretty normal life. (As best I can tell, there isn’t much solid, legitimate science backing up the generalizations of such claims, but put that aside.) Their voices are encouraged, even celebrated today. I’m not interested in the voices that find their way to the front of the crowd–if anything, are thrust to the front of the crowd and given an agenda-driven priority over others in the noise. It’s the voices like these–voices shushed or intimidated into silence due to their agenda-evaluated inconvenience–that have my attention. How many more would there be if the culture were more welcoming? If they weren’t in the process of being publicly shamed for what they have to say?

One of the important facts about marriage that many miss, including most of those in evangelical or mainstream Christianity, is that, as an institution, it is about much, much more than the happiness and satisfaction of two people who want to be together. Among the many things one learns from the way of life God has designed is that, among many other things, the institution of marriage must include considerations of family and childrearing. Concern for the children created and reared by a marriage is something one must consider. Maybe more people will begin to listen to the voices of children who have actually been reared in families that functionally ignored that consideration before they begin endorsing a redefinition of “family” that will, by design, deprive future children of one of their greatest needs: a mother and a father.

Why is society increasingly condemning “transgender” people to suffering?

The title may cause some to think this post is going to say something else, but that won’t change the truth of that title: Why is the world turning against transgender people?

If you will forgive what will come across as a shameless self-promotion, I recorded this Tomorrow’s World webcast last time I was in Charlotte: (Apologies if you have sound issues while watching. I know it was a bit quiet when I watched it, and on my iPhone the volume kept dropping at odd times. Hopefully your viewing is better.)

That commentary is one I have actually wanted to give for a long time — actually, since the day after Joshua Alcorn (again, not Leelah Alcorn) died. The President’s irresponsible comments concerning therapy for such individuals occasioned an opportunity to bring it up again in the context of recent events.

You can click here for the Dr. Paul HcHugh article on transgenderism in the WSJ that I referred to in the video. (The article is behind a paywall, I believe, but the link there goes through a Google search link which may allow the full article to be displayed with some WSJ ads.)

(Photo courtesy of Naypong at FreeDigitalPhotos.net)
Why are we condemning an increasing number of individuals to suffering and confusion and refusing to provide them the help they need? (Photo courtesy of Naypong at FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

I’m sure I will discuss the topic again. One of the reasons I am being moved to Charlotte is to create more content to help keep pace with the growing scale of the Work, and that is intended to include webcasts. But until then, maybe I can vent a little more frustration about the topic here.

I have seen nothing substantial to refute the idea that Paul McHugh highlights in his article: Transgender people suffer from a disorder of assumption, just like those who suffer other such body-related disorders, and they need help. I’ve read some reactions to his paper, some from professionals in the field of mental health, and none of them seem to point to any significant evidence, at all, that the conclusion should be any different. You hear “stuck in the past” and “people have grown” and “now we know better” but no actual evidence that the changes that have happened in the profession in how they deal with the issue do anything more than reflect changing cultural attitudes.

The fact is, people who are trapped in a cycle where they are confused about their gender need help. They need a hand reaching out to them to help them through the maze they have become trapped in. Yet, we are in a place as a society where we are beginning to actually ban attempts to help such people in favor of simply accepting their suffering — even actively encouraging their harm to continue.

Those who consider themselves the “transgender community” seem to agree that they need help. They point to horrifying suicide rates, and, like Joshua Alcorn, claim that the solution is for society to become more accepting — claim that the cause of the suicides and depression is society’s unwillingness to accept them as they are.

There is, however, good cause to suspect such claims. As journalist Dale O’Leary reported in the 2007 book One Man, One Woman,

“If these problems were caused entirely by lack of public acceptance of [same-sex attraction], we would expect to find fewer problems in places where tolerance was high and ‘homophobia’ low. But this isn’t the case. Studies done in the Netherlands and New Zealand, for example, where there is generally high tolerance of sexual ‘diversity’ found the same high rates of psychological difficulties as those done elsewhere.”

[Quoted from here.]

Even that evidence aside, where is the good evidence that transgenderism is anything but a disorder of association? No one is arguing that we should accept the self-perceptions of those suffering from anorexia or bulimia. Rather, we are driven to help such people to see themselves rightly, to help them address the self-damaging misperceptions reigning in their minds.

And note: This isn’t an argument that people suffering from gender confusion chose to feel and see themselves the way they do. At the same time, there are many perceptions people have, about themselves and others, that are not accurate but which have been formed by a variety of circumstances, both psychological and even chemical. Again, which anorexic or bulimic sufferer actually chose to see themselves or their bodies in such a manner?

Some might say, “But, transgenderism can show up in individuals at such a young age.” Really? Like the 9-year-old dying of anorexia reported by Salon? Like the 1500 anorexics between 13- & 15-years-old, 400 between 10- & 12-years-old, 99 between 8 & 9-years-old, and 98 between 5 & 7-years-old treated in England over a three year period according to the NHS, as reported by the Daily Mail? (Warning: The link is to the Daily Mail…) And those are reported cases. Conditions like anorexia are often unreported — surely that is so in children so young, where the condition is not normally expected.

I’m sorry, but the argument that “I have felt this way since I was very young” just doesn’t mean, in any way, that it is the way you are meant to be and doesn’t mean that it isn’t a condition that you can be helped to overcome and escape.

Yet, as those who have overcome anorexia often relate, overcoming it can take a long time with continuous help and an environment supportive of your healing. So, why are we, as a society, choosing increasingly to abandon those suffering with gender confusion — robbing them of both professional care that could help them and an environment that encourages the healing they need?

Part of the problem is that it has to do with sex and gender, and our society has a huge hang up about that. To suggest that male and female identities are anything but “fluid” these days is to invite wrath, regardless of what actual biology and (real) psychology might say. (Let alone the Bible! “Turn on the rage machine — someone mentioned Genesis!”)

It is caught up in the same storm that is dedicated to convincing everyone that people are “born” homosexual. Weakening one case weakens the other, and the direction in which our society is currently dragging itself demands that the “born that way” dogma not be questioned in any way whatsoever.

Yet it is a dogma that is begging to be questioned. Consider this comment from David Benkof, a homosexual historian, himself (underlining mine):

“Of course, none of this means people don’t have sexual orientations today, it just means sexual orientations are specific to our culture, and thus not basic human nature. In tech-speak, that means being gay is in the software of some people’s lives, but it’s in nobody’s hardware.

“The compelling evidence nobody’s born gay doesn’t necessarily have to shred the LGBT agenda. Legitimate reasons for more liberal attitudes and policies regarding gays and lesbians still exist, such as freedom of association, the right to privacy, and respect for other people’s experiences. But those who demand social or political change because gays are born that way just don’t know much about history.”

[Found here.]

I know — people will dismiss Benkof as a self-hating orthodox Jewish homosexual. That is to their detriment, because his point is well founded, corresponding to all we know right now in science and in culture.

His point is a good one. One does not have to relegate homosexual urges, mindsets, proclivities, or inclinations to pure “choice” and conservative social commentators from a wide variety of directions have admitted that there can be many influences that push a person in such a direction — just as is the case for many conditions, such as alcoholism, violence, other body disorders, etc. Even those searching for a “gay gene” have admitted that the scant evidence they have found for correlations between genetic features and homosexual men would not argue for anything that “causes” homosexuality but, at most, something that would have to combine with multiple other factors to bring about such strong influences in someone’s life. The “gay gene” that somehow “makes” a person a homosexual is a myth — it has been declared so by those who have come the closest to finding anything that might be called such, even while those who point to their studies ignore what they actually say.

Who could question that there are influences in this world that can push a person into wrong and harmful lifestyles and thought patterns — lifestyles and patterns they would never actively choose for themselves? I wouldn’t. But since when did we declare that just because there may be such influences we should embrace them rather than help people overcome them?

And it is no different concerning the transgender movement.

I read an excellent article in the Federalist yesterday titled, “It Isn’t Hateful To Point Out Bruce Jenner Isn’t a Woman” (May 12, 2015). It covers similar ground as I did in the video above, with a special emphasis on the insanity and harmfulness of mainstream journalism’s response to the transgender movement (e.g., accepting false pronouns), but I love how well the author, Daniel Payne, makes his points.

For instance, he asks what I think is a very relevant question: What if someone “identified” as a different race or ethnicity? Like me — I’m about as caucasian as Barry Manilow and Weird “Al” Yankovic, but what if I began identifying as Chinese or African-American? What if I believed — as in deeply, truly believed — that I was another very different ethnicity or race? Would everyone have to begin ignoring reality and start referring to me by the ethnicity I identified as?

Similarly, if a young woman suffers from anorexia, should everyone simply accept the individual’s self-perception — how she “identifies” — over the facts? Especially if the facts mean that she is suffering in her state, whether she believes she is suffering it or not?

The answers to these questions should be virtually self-evident. Yet, the insanity of our current culture means they are not. At least not when sex is concerned.

And even worse, just as our culture is creating more body-image problems in the young through the onslaught of marketing, movies, etc. that saturate their minds, we are doing the same thing with the young when it comes to gender confusion. As Dr. Paul McHugh had reported in his WSJ essay, somewhere around 75% of those who express gender confusion when they are young do pass through that time with such confusion spontaneously disappearing without intervention. Expect that number to drop as society begins increasingly sending such young people more and more messages, through every form of media imaginable and through the mouths of the perceived authorities in their lives, that teach them “This confusion means you aren’t really what you seem to be. Trust and follow that confusion.” How terrible. Frankly, how satanic.

Rather than solve a problem and seek to help people, we are intensifying a problem and abandoning people to it.

May God have mercy on our nation as we increasingly sentence more and more people, young and old, to suffering by refusing to help them — even by making it illegal to help them. What a messed up place.

“Gay Wedding” lawsuits and boycotts put the lie to “live and let live”

"Live and let live?" Apparently not...
“Live and let live?” Apparently not…

I’ve been thinking similar thoughts, but a Wall Street Journal editorial that I read today really put it very well.

The opinion piece — “Indiana’s Libertarian Moment” — by Bill McGurn makes the case that many of the strongest defenders of cake makers, wedding planners, etc. and their right to refuse to participate in a homosexual “wedding” on religious grounds are some of the very people — libertarians — who argued so powerfully for the right for homosexuals to “marry” in the first place.

They see that the very arguments that homosexuals were using to say that they should have the freedom to “marry” are the very arguments that also defend the rights of individuals not to participate. And they recognize that all of the fury over Indiana’s RFRA law (which I discussed a few days ago) is wrongly placed, wrongly directed, and wrongly founded — generally on grounds that homosexuals, themselves, used to advance their cause.

Mr. McGurn says what he says very well in his article, so I would encourage you to read it for yourself. However, I will quote a few passages here and add my own comments.

He uses Richard Epstein of New York University, whom he notes is “arguably America’s leading libertarian law professor,” as a case in point. McGurn points out that Mr. Epstein has argued that that American principles of freedom should mean that the government does not have the right to withhold marriage licenses from homosexual couples, but also…

[Epstein] further argues that the same freedom of association requires that the law not be used to coerce those who disagree with gay marriage. He notes too the asymmetry of forces here, with big organizations such as the National Collegiate Athletic Association and Wal-Mart denouncing the religious-liberty law while the owner of a small Indiana pizzeria became a national new story after she told a reporter that while she happily serves gay customers, she wouldn’t feel comfortable catering a gay wedding.

“Civil-rights laws are turned upside down when used to harass small businesses with minority viewpoints,” says Mr. Epstein. “These viewpoints need constitutional space between them and the relentless ambitions of an ascendant gay rights movement that seems to have quickly forgotten that its members were once on the receiving end of the unthinking and abusive exercise of state criminal law.”

McGurn notes comments from other leading libertarians in his piece. He highlights John Stossel’s comment that the homosexual “marriage” movement has changed its focus from “tolerance to totalitarianism” (some will understandably question whether it was ever just about “tolerance,” but let me put that aside temporarily). And his quote from the editor of Reason magazine, Matt Welch, who had also advocated from the right of homosexuals to “marry,” is just as strong:

“The bad news, for those of us on the suddenly victorious side of the gay marriage debate, is that too many people are acting like sore winners, not merely content with the revolutionary step of removing state discrimination against same-sex couples in the legal recognition of marriage, but seeking to use state power to punish anyone who refuses to lend their business services to wedding ceremonies they find objectionable.”

The point about the logical consequences of saying that the Constitution gives people the right to a wedding cake from the business of their choice is something I think I touched on in my last blog entry on this topic, but one which I would like to blather on further in a subsequent post if I write one. But let me stay focused (for once in my life?) on this topic for now.

Those quotes and comments from libertarians who supported homosexual “marriage” are powerful enough, but what I believed was really the kicker in McGurn’s article was how well he highlighted the hypocrisy showing itself in the homosexual “marriage” movement now that it seems increasingly to be the victor in the struggle over public policy. And I would add that it is a hypocrisy in more than the homosexual “marriage” movement, but the overall movement for increased “tolerance” for homosexuality in the culture, in general.

Rather than give more quotes (I don’t mean to rob the WSJ of traffic — click and go read it), let me summarize the points in my own words, even if Mr. McGurn’s are probably better.

So often in the past, many homosexual activists — seeking to defend a “live and let live” approach to their lifestyles — would argue, “What difference does it make to you if I am allowed to marry someone else of my own sex? How does my lifestyle impact you in any way?”

And now, we know the answer to that: “The difference it makes is that my business may be forced to close, my livelihood may be destroyed, and I may be forced by the state to pay thousands and even millions in fines unless I violate my conscience. The difference it makes is that the adoption service that my faith runs to help children may be forced by the state to close unless we violate our religious convictions. The difference it makes is that I could be fired for not agreeing with your position.” (On this last item, case-in-point, as McGurn implies: Brendan Eich, formerly CEO of Mozilla.)

In other words: When many in the homosexual acceptance movement said they were simply seeking the right we should all have to “live and let live,” it was a lie.

Not a lie for all of them. The Memories Pizza incident is demonstrating that. But for many, apparently it was just that.

The claim “It shouldn’t make a difference to you whether or not I marry someone of my own sex — it doesn’t affect you in any way” is not in any way compatible with “Participate in my wedding or I am going to sue you for everything you have, make the state shut your business down, and prevent you from ever working in this industry, again.”

Those claims are the opposites of each other.

The latter statement is now the reality. Was the former one ever a reality? Ever a sincerely held belief by those who made the claim? Will those making the latter statement now come to themselves and say, “Wow, I’m sorry! I’ve really contradicted myself, huh?” Or will they at least have the integrity to admit that the original claim was a lie to begin with?

McGurn puts it well when he points out that, for those who believe in marriage as it should be (my words, not his) — believers in what is now called “traditional marriage” — the question has changed. It is no longer whether or not the majority of society will continue to mirror their views. It is whether or not they will even be allowed by that society to live their lives and support their families in accordance with those views — in accordance with the dictates of their own consciences. Increasingly, it seems that the answer is “No, you won’t.”

Isaiah 5:20 says, “Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter.” Anyone who does not see this reflected in these very days isn’t paying attention. These things will bring woe.

Indiana and the RFRA: Erotic Liberty Über Alles

Preparing to fly over the capitol building in Indianapolis, perhaps? (image: Wikipedia)
Preparing to fly over the capitol building in Indianapolis, perhaps? (image: Wikipedia)

The current, weird furor over Indiana’s state version of the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) is really, really instructive. One one hand, I don’t get it. On the other hand, I do.

The news is giving (however poorly) the background, so let me summarize quickly in the event you don’t know. In 1993, President Clinton signed the federal RFRA. It was an amazing piece of work, with rare agreement across the political aisle. It was approved unanimously by the House of Representatives (since when has a major piece of legislation been approved unanimously by both parties?), and 97-3 in the Senate. Both the ACLU and the Christian Coalition behind it. (Sort of like watching dogs and cats hold hands, right?) It was introduced in their respective chambers by Democrats Chuck Schumer and Ted Kennedy. And the President praised it.

The RFRA was meant to protect religious freedom against unnecessary government infringement while, at the same time, creating a means for government to test when such infringement might actually be necessary. It was simple and clear. The law said that the government cannot substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion without showing, both, that the state has a compelling interest at stake in doing so and that it is the least restrictive means of achieving that interest.

The First Amendment had take some hits from recent court cases, and the RFRA was a means of addressing that. It shored up the government’s commitment to the First Amendment and clarified its obligations to honor the free exercise of religion while simultaneously providing a means of testing to see if there might be a legitimate, societal need to restrict that free exercise in some cases.

However, as established by the Supreme Court, the reach of RFRA was limited to the federal government and did not include concerns at the state level. So, many states have enacted their own version of RFRA, and they have done so without too much difficulty. States considered, both, very conservative and very liberal have done so (Connecticut’s was established even before the federal government’s, I think). Such agreement across political and cultural lines has reflected the spirit in which the federal RFRA was established.

Yet, Indiana is now under fire for doing just as others have done, with businesses, even other state governments, declaring that they will ban travel to the state unless their RFRA is repealed.

The hypocrisy in many of those decisions and proclamations have been highlighted by many. Bands I don’t care about have cancelled the parts of their tours to take place in Indiana, yet their tours continue in other states with their own RFRA. State governments with their own RFRA have wagged their finger. The wife of the President who so praisingly signed the federal RFRA has tweeted, “Sad this new Indiana law can happen in America today.” Weird, when her husband set the precedent.

What’s going on? I think two things are involved — probably one more than the other.

First, RFRA played a crucial role in the Burwell v. Hobby Lobby decision, in which the Supreme Court decided that Obamacare (as then currently configured–who knows how it will look day-to-day?) placed an inappropriate religious burden on the owners of Hobby Lobby by requiring them to violate their conscience and(no matter how you look at it) pay for certain forms of birth control (e.g., abortion).

This was a wake up call to some who have begun to see the freedom to exercise religion as a barrier to the political ends they very desperately want. Part of why America was founded was freedom of conscience, and Burwell demonstrated that this principle still has bite. The state may have a “compelling interest” in providing abhorrent forms of “birth control” free to all women (not agreeing that it does; saying so just for argument), but RFRA requires the government to prove that forcing people to pay for it when such payments would violate their conscience is, by far, not the least restrictive means for doing so. The challenge is that those other means (e.g., through general taxation) are politically problematic.

To some extent, I think this is what has caused news items to refer to RFRA not as a “religious freedom” law, as it has normally been seen, but as a “religious objection” law. On one hand, both concepts fall into the same category (freedom means freedom to object). On the other hand, the second characterization reveals a lot about how the media wishes to color the dispute. It isn’t their biggest tell, however…

Even more than Burwell, the stunning reversal of America’s attitude toward homosexual “marriage” has changed RFRA laws’ image from that of protection for a cherished, national freedom to some sort Taliban-like tool of oppression.

Consider the full tweet from Mrs. Clinton: “Sad this new Indiana law can happen in America today. We shouldn’t discriminate against ppl bc of who they love #LGBT” followed by a link to a Puffington Host article.

RFRA-type laws are now seen in light of the cultural decay of the last decade. The stories of wedding planners, cake makers, etc., who being sued by individuals and punished by state governments because they can’t, in good conscience, apply their artistic talent to support homosexual “weddings” have brought to the forefront the realization that society’s increased acceptance of homosexual “marriage” places many in direct conflict given their sincerely and deeply held religious convictions.

So, now, RFRA is seen as a tool for discrimination — a “cover” meant to allow continued discrimination against homosexuals.

There are more observations to make here that should be obvious to even the most casual observer, but which I just don’t have time to list. For instance, the RFRA law — even Indiana’s version — does not mention discrimination. The propensity of some media outlets to describe it as a “Gay-discrimination” law is saddening in, depending on the source, ignorance or dishonesty. It is no more a “gay-discrimination” law than the federal law on which everyone agreed, and no more than those passed by other states, some of which are even stronger than Indiana’s version. Which also puts the lie to those who claim that it is the small differences in Indiana’s law that makes it onerous. Why are other states getting away scot-free? It isn’t the content of the law, it’s the timing.

However, what seems the strangest to me is that Indiana’s RFRA law, just like all the others, is designed to handle exactly the concern that its haters have brought up. If, for instance, forcing a wedding planner to pour all of his talents and skills into planning a homosexual “wedding” even though it violates her conscience is, indeed, a compelling state interest, and such coercion is the best means of achieving that interest, then it will totally pass the RFRA test. (And, frankly, court case after court case in this country seems to increasingly demonstrate that such coercion will, indeed, succeed in passing such a test.)

What is wrong with requiring a case to be made that it is worth society’s while to punish someone for being unwilling to violate his or her religious convictions, regardless of what we think of those convictions, personally?

For instance, if someone were to go to a Muslim-owned cake store and request a cake depicting Mohammed–say, reproducing a Charlie Hebdo cover for a local journalism school activity celebrating freedom of the press–should the sincere Muslim cake designer be forced by the government to do so? I don’t think he should. But, regardless, at least RFRA laws give an orderly framework for deciding whether or not it is in society’s interest to require such things.

The government may decide that, yes, we all have a constitutional right to the cake of our choice from the baker of our choice, regardless of the First Amendment. But at least RFRA provides a means of testing whether such coercion is justified (well, probably deserves scare-quotes: “justified”).

[As an aside, can I just add that all of this seems dumb at an amazingly fundamental level. Even religious considerations aside, can’t a person specialize in cakes for homosexual “weddings”? Geek-and-nerd weddings? Muslim weddings? Jewish weddings? Is the only wedding type for which specialization is banned heterosexual weddings? What a weird world mankind is creating…]

If anything, if giving those who desire a homosexual “wedding” access to every cake-making business in existence in the name of “non-discrimination” actually is a compelling state interest and forcing those business owners who disagree with homosexual “marriage” to comply or be crushed out of business is the best way to achieve that end, then RFRA gives such efforts extra bite. If something passes RFRA standards, then it isn’t considered violating individual’s First Amendment rights and the way is clear, and all such future objections are pretty much doomed. Yet, if such an interest is not compelling or if less religiously offensive means are available to accomplish it — that is, if it fails the RFRA test — then why would we want to trample on people’s religious convictions, even if we disagree with them?

Really, it’s hard to see where the problem is. And even some legal scholars who support homosexual “marriage” agree and also support Indiana’s RFRA law. Dr. Douglas Laycock of University of Virginia’s law school is one.

The Indiana RFRA furor seems, fundamentally, a storm based not on fact but on the state of our culture and its current, relentless obsession: For some, absolutely nothing — not even our most cherished and fundamental freedoms — that presents a risk, however low, of slowing the progress of embracing the advance of homosexual “marriage” can be contemplated.

I heard Dr. Albert Mohler coin a name some time ago (at least I think he coined it; perhaps someone else did) that seems to apply: erotic liberty. While the free exercise of religion has long been one of the fundamental freedoms in the United States — long cherished, long celebrated, long protected — it is falling to a new freedom a growing number of people wish to enshrine above it. Increasingly, religious liberty takes a backseat to erotic liberty. And the events these days in Indiana demonstrate just how far back that backseat really is.

The Indiana RFRA dispute is all about the current obsession with erotic liberty. It hasn’t helped that backers of the law have been less that courageous. For instance, if RFRA means that the discriminatory attitudes of some, if rooted in religious convictions, may be protected if there is no compelling state reason to make the practice of those convictions illegal, then admit it. On the other hand, those who hate the law could stand to be more honest, as well. Instead of larger principles like “discrimination” which can sound very noble, if their concern is really that they want the state to have unquestioned authority to force wedding planners and cake makers out of business unless they are willing to use their talents in the service of weddings that violate their deeply held positions of conscience, then say so. They accuse the law’s supporters of hiding the particulars of their concerns, but they could stand to be more honest about their own. If they believe that erotic liberty is a cause so worthy that it justifies denying people their First Amendment rights, then just say so.

It isn’t that there’s not a great discussion to be had concerning RFRA laws and how religious freedom is supposed to operate in a culture moving in the direction America’s is headed. But that great discussion is not being had concerning Indiana’s new law. Quite the opposite. Rather, we’re seeing politics at its worst, where huge, cultural impacts will be made and multiple generations affected by nothing more than pretense, positioning, and pandering. Yuck.

I am so thankful that I have been called by God to something different,and that I do not participate in politics. It allows a vantage point to see things as they are, I think, without being caught up in the distraction of trying to drive them in a particular direction. RFRA or no RFRA, “homosexual marriage” is an oxymoron in God’s eyes — about as substantial as “married bachelors” or “square circles.” The outcome of all the fuss is not so relevant to me as what the back-and-forth of the fuss reveals concerning where our culture and national conscience currently stands. And the position of that culture, or at least the position of the drivers of that culture, seems pretty clear: Erotic liberty über alles.

So, have they really found a “gay gene”?

DNA (square)New Scientist this week published a report on the ongoing search for a “gay gene” focusing on what is seen as the most promising candidates for such a thing in men: gene markers in the Xq28 region of the X chromosome and in the 8q12 region of chromosome 8.

As is to be expected of such writing when so much completely unscientific concerns are riding on it, the reporting is full of self-contradiction. For instance, compare statements in the magazine:

“A genetic analysis of 409 pairs of gay brothers, including sets of twins, has provided the strongest evidence yet that gay people are born gay.”

Ah! So, they have found evidence that people are actually born homosexual! Or have they? Well, no, they haven’t. From the same article, further down:

“Whatever the results, [study leader Alan] Sanders stresses that complex traits such as sexual orientation depend on multiple factors, both environmental and genetic. Even if he has hit on individual genes, they will likely only have at most a small effect on their own, as has also been seen in studies of the genetic basis for intelligence, for example.”

So, the beginning says they have found “the strongest evidence yet” that homosexuals are born homosexuals, yet later on the lead scientist in the study stresses that even if the study’s findings stand it would still only mean that being a homosexual depends on “multiple factors, both environmental and genetic” and, in fact, that the genetics “will likely only have at most a small effect on their own.”

That is truly sloppy writing on the part of New Scientist magazine–and, unless he is simply suffering under poor editors, the article’s author.

The self-contradiction within the magazine is not limited to the article, itself. For instance, while the article stresses that “Even if he [Sanders] has hit on individual genes [that may be related to homosexuality], they will likely only have at most a small effect on their own.” Yet a different article elsewhere in the issue–an editorial titled “Gay gene discovery has good and bad implications” (or “Get over it” in the print version)–states, “But as we report this week, there is growing evidence that male homosexuality has a strong genetic contribution.”

The contrast is stupefying. “[Genes] will likely only have at most a small effect on their own” versus “evidence that male homosexuality has a strong genetic contribution” — which is it, New Scientist?

Such irrational self-contradiction is what you get when such strong social bias infects science and science journalism. Science reporting becomes social advocacy, and results are replaces with desired, fanciful interpretations — something that New Scientist is, regrettably, very good at. (Very tempted to borrow one of the schticks of the WSJ’s James Taranto and declare New Scientist to be two magazines in one.)

There is much to say on this, so let me categorize things into a Q & A:

Have they found a “gay gene”?

Short answer: No. Long answer: Noooooooo. Longer answer: The only way to answer “Yes” is (1) to completely ignore what the words “gay gene” mean to most people and (2) to ignore the actual results of the study.

Concerning (1), when some claim to believe in a “gay gene” they are stating a belief that homosexuality is determined by your genetics — that there is no real choice, environmental, or psychological influence involved, but rather it is just how you are “coded” in your DNA. That is, they believe there is genetic coding that completely determines your sexual preference just as it might determine your hair color or eye color.

This is what most people think of concerning the words “gay gene,” and no such “gay gene” has been found in any way, shape, or form. No genetic instructions have been found that determine one’s sexual preference. Nothing in this study changes that fact.

[UPDATE, 11/21/2014 PM: I came across a webpage referencing an earlier Guardian article on the same work. That article, too, showed a similar confusing mix of statements and words that implied more than they should. But it also contained some straight out clarity in a few statements. For instance, it pointed out: “The genes were neither sufficient, nor necessary, to make any of the men gay.” A far cry from a “gay gene,” to be sure, if some homosexuals have them and some don’t and if some heterosexuals have them and some don’t. Clearly, not a gene determining sexual preference. Then, too, there was this fact, which many seem to like to forget: “The flawed thinking behind a genetic test for sexual orientation is clear from studies of twins, which show that the identical twin of a gay man, who carries an exact replica of his brother’s DNA, is more likely to be straight than gay. That means even a perfect genetic test that picked up every gene linked to sexual orientation would still be less effective than flipping a coin.” That is, studies on twins have proven beyond doubt that sexual preference is not genetically determined. There may be a variety of influences in a person’s life — biological, emotional, sociological, psychological — that create vulnerabilities to certain temptations, but no true “born that way” excuse to completely justify any sinful lifestyle or remove the possibility of repentance and change has ever been demonstrated, and these studies are no exception. There is no “gay gene” as the concept is popularly understood, and homosexuals are not born that way in the same manner that zebras are born with stripes and leopards with spots. — WGS]

So what has been found?

What the recent study has done is try to establish more solidly that on two particular genetic regions there seems to be a correlation between certain DNA markers and homosexuality in some men. Previous studies had suggested such a correlation, but later studies had made that correlation questionable. This study uses a larger group of men and establishes more robust conclusions than the studies before it, and it suggests that such a correlation may exist.

Yet, as I understand it, it does not show that all homosexual men have this DNA marker and it does not show that all men with this marker are homosexual. It does not establish that the DNA marker is actually in any way causing a tendency to homosexuality, though that is something that the scientists will now explore. The two regions where a noticeable correlation seemed to exist between the presence of markers and homosexuality: region Xq28 of the X chromosome and region 8q12 of chromosome 8, have many genes. As the article above says, “Both regions contain many genes, and the next step will be to home in on which ones might be contributing to sexual orientation.”

Notice the important word there: “might.” They don’t even know if the gene correlation implies any sort of causation — that is, that anything in these regions is actually causing any effect on sexual preference, at all. All they have found is strong suggestion of a correlation between certain genetic markers and the homosexual preferences of the men being studied.

Still, doesn’t a correlation imply that one causes the other?

That is a very common misconception, but, no, correlation does not imply causation. Actually, that error is humorously illustrated by a fun website I came across not too long ago (admittedly, “fun” is a matter of taste) that demonstrates real correlations between sets of data that are completely unrelated. The title of the website is plain enough, Spurious Correlations, and here are a few of its examples:

Correlation - Cheese consumption & Bedsheet entanglement deaths - tylervigen

Correlation - Maine divorce rate & Margarine consumption - tylervigen

Correlation - Swimming pool drownings & Nicolas Cage films - tylervigen

So, just because things correlate that does not mean that one causes the other. (Though they really should look into that Nicholas Cage thing, though.

Now, that said, correlation is a place to start, to be sure. While the presence of a correlation between two things does not imply that one causes the other, at the same time if one causes the other in some way then you would expect a correlation. The new study, if it continues to hold up to scrutiny, would demonstrate a possible correlation that should be followed up on. Without the follow up, the study really tells no tale of anything significant. As the article said, from here they should go on to look if any of the genes in those regions “might” (their word) have an influence.

And there are things that make the correlations more compelling as something worth investigating. For instance, the Xq28 region is an area of the X chromosome containing genes that help regulate the androgen receptor protein, connected to testosterone. (Not pretending to be an expert, here. Just a Wikipedia user.)

What if a genetic influence is found?

Well, what if it is? The analysis you get from those who are already “pro-homosexuality” will be pretty inconsistent. The New Scientist editorial I referred to above is a good example. There, the editor says,

“To socially liberal and tolerant people, this new knowledge will be entirely unchallenging. It is in circles where homosexuality is still considered problematic – of which there are many – that it could have implications.”

There are other evidences of irrational biases in the paragraph, but let’s look at just this statement. It is, of course, completely false.

The idea that sexual preference could be biologically determined would, indeed, have the potential to have a great impact on “socially liberal and [errantly described as] tolerant people.” For instance, I’ve read some homosexual activists who hate the idea of identifying a “gay gene” because they believe “sexual freedom and self-determination” is the goal, and they wouldn’t want to see any sort of biological determinism one way or the other. Also for young people surrounded by and soaking up such a “socially liberal and [so-called] tolerant” worldview as promoted by this editorial, any feelings they may experience that they might interpret as homosexual in nature would be seen through the lens of the “some are born this way” doctrine. Such a coloring of their perception and processing would lean some much more heavily toward accepting that they may be “one of those by nature,” while, in a worldview lacking in such biological determinism, they would be more inclined toward considering the experience to be something fleeting.

The author actually explores one of those possibilities, without recognizing the other side. He talks of genetic testing where a child in the womb who is found to have “that gene” is aborted or “cured” through genetics-based medicine. What he doesn’t talk about is the possibility that those who find their child has “that gene” might then alter the child’s environment and their approach to raising him in such a way that actively shapes him toward homosexuality, making it that much harder for him to choose otherwise than it would have been — mistaking such a finding as an imperative to raise a child in accordance with some fantasized genetic “destiny.”

And on the author’s second sentence, I have found the reverse to be true: As someone who definitely considers homosexuality to be “problematic” I don’t see any implications, at all, if a genetic connection is eventually discovered.

But, if there is a genetic connection (admittedly, not yet shown), shouldn’t that change whether or not homosexuality is morally acceptable as a lifestyle?

No, not at all. What is considered moral is not determined by genetics in any way, shape, or form. Really, that’s obvious, right?

I’ve made the point before as a model of logical thinking and identifying assumptions (check that out here: “Australia’s ‘You’re having a lesbian’ ad versus Logic”), but let me make the point again with another recent article.

Almost as recently as this New Scientist article, the Daily Mail Online published an article in October of this year titled, “Are criminals born with a murder gene? Scientists identify cause of violent behavior.” The beginning of the article summarizes the rest well:

“Researchers have claimed that some people may be born with genes that makes them inherently violent.

If true it would indicate some are simply born to be violent, rather than being criminalised by society.

The scientists identified two genes that may be associated with extremely violent behaviour.”

Actually, if you read the article (caveat navita stans: the Daily Mail tends to include a lot of trashy celebrity-oriented articles and pics in its margins), you’ll find that, concerning the study, it reads very similar to the article about the study of homosexuals. If anything, the differences in the study seem to make the conclusions of the “violence” article stronger.

So, if it ends up being true that scientists have, indeed, “identified two genes that may be associated with extremely violent behaviour” and make them “inherently violent” then we should embrace such behavior as morally acceptable?

Of course not.

And such possible genetic linkages have been found with other problems, as well, such as alcoholism. Should we accept alcohol abuse as moral behavior if genetics plays some sort of role in one’s susceptibility? Again, of course not.

I realize that at this point some might take offense that I am lumping homosexuality in with the vices of extreme violence and alcohol abuse. To that I would say two things. (1) If that bothers you, then you prove my point. You are saying that there is a moral difference between the behaviors, yet you are judging that independently of genetics. If genetic tendencies played a role in determining what is morally acceptable, you would see no difference. And (2) consider something that is not negative, then. There have been findings that suggest some have a genetic predisposition toward greater intelligence. Do we then declare “intelligence” to be a moral virtue? Are those who are less intelligent somehow less moral, as well? (Let me say: Wow, I hope not!)

If that hasn’t yet made the point that genetics should not be used to determine what is moral or immoral, consider this paragraph from the New Scientist article:

“‘This study knocks another nail into the coffin of the “chosen lifestyle” theory of homosexuality,’ says Simon LeVay, the neuroscientist and writer who, in 1991, claimed to have found that a specific brain region, within the hypothalamus, is smaller in gay men. ‘Yes, we have a choice in life, to be ourselves or to conform to someone else’s idea of normality, but being straight, bisexual or gay, or none of these, is a central part of who we are, thanks in part to the DNA we were born with.'”

Now, reimagine that exact paragraph to be talking about extremely violent offenders:

“‘This study knocks another nail into the coffin of the “chosen lifestyle” theory of violent behavior,’ says Doctor von Doctor, the German biologist and neuroscientist who claimed to have found that a specific brain region, within the central lobe, is darker in violent offenders. ‘Yes, we have a choice in life, to be ourselves or to conform to someone else’s idea of normality, but being passive, aggressive or extremely violent, or none of these, is a central part of who we are, thanks in part to the DNA we were born with.'”

Who in the world would be OK with that second paragraph? By the way, that is a real German neuroscientist, Dr. Gerhard Roth, who discovered that, indeed, there is a “dark patch” in the central lobe area of the brain in many violent offenders — a discovery which “led him to believe that some criminals have a ‘genetic predisposition’ to violence,” according to the Daily Mail article referenced above. I removed his name from the quote above in the hope that no one would accidentally grab that terrible, fake quote and give it as something he actually said.

Because such a thing would be a terrible thing to say. Yet it is logically equivalent to the previous, very real paragraph in New Scientist quoting Simon LeVay.

We could do the same thing with the last paragraph of the New Scientist editorial:

“Ultimately, what causes homosexuality doesn’t matter as much as the fact that homosexual people exist, and have always existed, in every society on earth. In the words of the activists: some people are gay. Get over it.”

Redone:

“Ultimately, what causes extreme violence doesn’t matter as much as the fact that extremely violent people exist, and have always existed, in every society on earth. In the words of the activists: some people are extremely violent. Get over it.”

Logical? No. Scientific? No. Advocacy? Yes. (Fitting that the New Scientist editor is quoting activists at the end. His article shows that he is among them.)

So, no, if some genetic influence, whether strong or weak, related to homosexual temptations were ever discovered (and, again, one has not been discovered, yet), it would be irrelevant concerning whether or not homosexuality is morally right or wrong.

What is right or wrong is not in the hands of geneticists, and it certainly isn’t in the hands of the writers of New Scientist magazine. It’s in the hands of God. And, frankly, it’s a lot safer there.

Morals of the story: (1) Read science articles very carefully, especially if they touch on a social “hot topic.” (2) Even after reading a science article, keep in mind that the author may not be properly conveying the actual results of the study being discussed. (3) No “gay gene” has been discovered, and this recent work does not change that. Some interesting possibilities have shown themselves, but they need more research and, even if confirmed in the strongest sense, they still don’t look like they would demonstrate the magical “gay gene” some people hope so desperately to find. And (4) what is moral or immoral is not determined by genetics, and people only pretend it is when doing so supports something they have already pre-determined is morally OK.

2013 in review

Wow — 2013 has flown by like nobody’s business! I cannot recall ever feeling like a year went by so fast as I feel this year.

For my own sake, I thought I would put together a few thoughts about the Roman year that is now passing. It has been a crazy 365 days, though it hasn’t necessarily been an unpredictable craziness…

The United States continues to broadcast its incompetence. As explained by a WSJ opinion piece today, the new president of Mexico, Enrique Peña Nieto, has “out-leadershipped” virtually every U.S. leader over the last year by actually making his country work and work better, addressing actual problems. Meanwhile, we keep applying new band aids on top of old band aids and our symptoms are beginning to multiply. “Dysfunctional” hardly seems like a sufficient word for what we have seen in our government over the course of 2013 (certainly a far cry from my fantasy Obama acceptance speech). Our debt continues to be nauseating, our military frustrated, our credibility in the world fatally compromised, and our morality continuing down the toilet.

On that last point, as Yahoo! News noted (hat tip to SW!) 2013 was, according to the so-called Human Rights Campaign, the “gayest year in gay history.” What we have witnessed in terms of cultural collapse and moral change in 2013 has been breathtaking in its speed. But, as I have tried to say before, the changes we see in the state of “marriage” are not the problem as much as they are the symptom. If marriage had remained a sacred and honored institution and if sexual activity had continued to be seen as something belonging within the domain of marriage, none of this would be happening. Admittedly, it is a symptom that the disease is in its final stages, but it is merely a symptom. We’ve only gotten to these final stages here in 2013 because all previous symptoms were willfully ignored.

(That said, the signs of our cultural rot in the U.S.A. are too many for me to even want to list here, as I would love to move on. Let me only add here in parentheses that it would be wonderful if 2014 involved no news items that contained the word “twerk.” That would be great.)

On the world scene, the changes and challenges have also been breathtaking. The Eurozone survived the predictions of many that it would crumble. The Middle East, Egypt and Syria in particular, continues to be scrambled up in a manner that will eventually enable a King of the South. Not to ignore other countries in the area: In 2013, Iraq experienced its deadliest year since 2008 and Iran got a big, wet, kiss on the lips by the U.S. and its buddies. The world continues to become configured in a manner consistent with the picture the Bible paints of the End Times.

And stepping into that world scene is a pope like none that world has seen for quite some time. Taking on the name “Francis I” which suggests that he is of a mind to reform, he has begun to do that — attempting to reform both the Roman Catholic Church’s image and its institutions. In addressing its image, many homosexuals and abortionists were encouraged by his comments that such topics dominate too much of the RCC’s dialogues and that it should focus on other things. What he did not say, of course, is that the positions and doctrines of the RCC were actually going to be changed in such matters — something that those who actually pay attention were sure to notice. Still, by focusing on projecting an image of humility and outgoing concern for the impoverished and the unheard, Pope Francis is creating the sort of picture that better matches the RCC’s talk and is reforming its image in a way that few could have imagined before 2013. The news speaks of record numbers of young, intelligent, educated women choosing the “calling” of the nunnery, and even many atheists are singing his praises, with one woman tweeting, “I’m an atheist, but the more I hear about Pope Francis, the more I like him.” Her opinion is not an isolated one, and I have read of many atheists considering giving the RCC another chance at winning their hearts–perhaps loosening the grip that Richard Dawkins, et al., have had on their minds.

Whether or not he is the last one and whether or not his honeymoon with the world continues unabated in 2014, the pope that the RCC received in 2013 is a game changer. It was a remarkable event of the past year with ramifications that will continue to be felt for much longer.

Concerning the Work of God, 2013 was an incredible year, with some of the most dramatic changes I have seen since I have had the privilege to be a part of it in this way! The Tomorrow’s World studio has been transformed, we’ve grown from a one-camera operation to three (including a jib), our graphics and planning for each program are being taken to a new level, the magazine underwent a powerful redesign, and our online presence has exploded through social networks at an almost frightening rate. The new TW Short videos are being viewed by tens and even hundreds of thousands of people at a time and are bringing thousands of additional people to our booklets and materials. Individuals all across the northern hemisphere are hearing the Tomorrow’s World program being broadcast in Russian for the first time. Dr. Roderick Meredith’s live Tomorrow’s World presentations online rocked, and, in my personal experience, the number of people who responded to the local TW presentations were greater than I had ever seen. And all of this (and so much more) just represents 2013! It doesn’t include any of the many things on the horizon just waiting for the trigger to be pulled. As far as I am concerned, this really is perhaps the most exciting time to be a part of the Work of God that I have ever experienced, in which it seems so blatantly obvious to those with eyes to see that His own hands are at work in the Church’s efforts.

Concerning those related to COGdom but outside the borders of God’s Work, if you will, in 2013 the rumormongers continued rumormongering, the self-appointed grew in number (as they always do), and the weird fantasies continued to multiply. Someone claimed to see in the Bible that Mr. Meredith would die this past year. And while it isn’t exactly the boldest prediction in the world that a man in his mid-80s would die, it, of course, flopped. Weird stories and predictions about the Church and its leaders crafted by various heretics and apostle-wannabes that were provably complete delusional fantasies did not pan out, as usual. Some folks here and there on the Internet finally acted on personal ambitions and self-delusions they have held for years. The earth kept spinning. The moon continued to orbit the earth. Boasters kept boasting. Accusers kept accusing. In those ways, 2013 was just another day in the office, as it has been for 2000 years. 🙂

Personally, it was a joy to serve my congregations in 2013. We grew, with a number of additions from those who have seen the telecast, received our literature, responded to the local presentations, and impressed with friends and loved ones who are in the Church. Frankly, I’ve never been involved in so many baptism counselings simultaneously, and it looks as though our Passover halls will happily be a bit more crowded! Growth aside, it is a privilege to get to serve so many wonderful people in this area, and I appreciate so much their patience with me. My family and I are so happy to make our home here.

Speaking of home, 2013 was quite a year on the home front! It was the first full year that my wonderful father- and mother-in-law have loved here, which has been such a blessing. It also was the year when I officially became shorter than 50% of my children, making me the third shortest person in a house filled with eight people. I lost 20 lbs. (Huzzah!) But have gained almost half of that back. (Booooo…) My wife and I had the humbling opportunity to travel to Europe, which was life-changing in a number of ways. Boy #1 continues to excel at fencing (the kind with masks and foils, not paint and wood), while Boy #2 has taken up Tae Kwon Do. Boy #3 is almost as tall as me, even though he is only 12-years-old, and Boy #4 has, here at the end of the year, gotten a pair of glasses that officially make him look smarter than me. 🙂 My Beautiful Wife began trying to sell some of her beautiful quilts (Etsy store: “Jeanine’s Quilted Things”). We painted our house. My work on Wally 4.0 proceeded apace, though not as “apace” as I would like (I still think it’s in beta). I converted to the Apple Ecosystem — in fact, I even got a MacBook Air to replace my old PC laptop (which I am surprised I haven’t blogged about, given how I’ve gone on about earlier matters), making me virtually 100% Apple-powered (though still rooting for Surface to do well).

More could be said, to be sure, but this Roman year of 2013 is ending with quite a bit having happened and with much promise of more to come in 2014.

In particular, this past year for me and my family was another opportunity to know that God has blessed us, that Jesus Christ rules in the Church and in our family, and that all our answers are found there in Him. All we have and know is worth having and knowing only because He grants that we have and know it, and all we do not have or know is not our concern as long as we are continually open and yielding to the One who, in His good time and for His good purposes, should one day grant that we have or know it. And until that day, having Him is sufficient. I think I saw that a little more clearly in 2013.

Perhaps the best thing about 2013 (even better than being 99% done with 2012 Maya-related silliness!) is knowing that Jesus’ return and His Kingdom is another solar revolution closer than it was this time last year. And whether I am alive when He comes back to earth or whether He determines in His wisdom that my end should come earlier than that, that is — beyond a doubt — a very good thing. (Does Martha Stewart have that phrase copyrighted? I hope not.)

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Order from Chaos through Boundaries

Boundaries -- order from chaos
Boundaries — order from chaos

I was listening to something last night on the way home that made me think.

When we are introduced to God on the first page of the Bible, we see Him creating. But shortly thereafter, He is turning chaos into order. How he does that is interesting: He does it through establishing boundaries.

At first, the earth is tohu and bohu and is uninhabitable. But man cannot live in chaos and disorder, tohu and bohu. Such a state is not fit for habitation, and God intended the earth to be inhabited (Isa. 45:18).

I noticed some time ago that there seems to be a structure in the Genesis 1 account. Well, there are several structures, but in particular, each day of 1-3 seems to be devoted to establishing a domain for inhabitants to come in days 4-6, and each in order. Day 1 involves establishing the domains of day and night, whereas Day 4 involves populating those domains with the sun and the moon and stars. Day 2 involves establishing the domains of the waters below and the waters above, and on Day 5 God creates the sea creatures to live in the waters below and the birds who fly among the clouds above. On Day 3 He establishes the land apart from the waters and fills it with vegetation, and on Day 6 He creates land animals and man to enjoy that realm.

Days 1-3 seem devoted to crafting places and domains of habitation that are, in turn, filled in the same order with their inhabitants.

That said, how does God establish the domains? How does He craft those domains out of the chaos?

He establishes them by setting boundaries where there were none. He takes what was total darkness (Genesis 1:2) and sets a boundary between Day and Night. He takes the waters and sets a boundary between what will be below and what will be above. He takes what was completely water covered and sets a boundary between dry land and the now-divided seas.

A major task of crafting order from chaos is setting boundaries. And perhaps it follows, then, that creating chaos often involves the removal of needed boundaries.

I think we see this theme in many places. God is angered at the spiritual chaos of Israel and says that part of the problem is that her priests have not taught the people to distinguish between the clean and the unclean, the holy and unholy (Ezekiel 22:26) — a failure to draw proper boundaries. God set boundaries between Israel and the other nations around her, not just physical but through command and ordinance, to create a “space” where He could work with her and craft her. In fact, God set the boundaries of the nations of the world earlier in the history (Acts 17:26), to create families of men according to His desires, much like some might create a beautiful, orderly garden on their property. In Babylon at the Tower, the people opposed that order for one of their own choosing (Genesis 11:4), in which the people remained together in opposition to God (certainly a form of chaos), so He manifested the boundaries He wanted through their speech, forcing them to naturally create the order He desired in the world.

God defines what is orderly in sexual relations by defining boundaries not to be crossed (Leviticus 18). Crossing those boundaries causes chaos in the realm of sexual and family relationships and an “anything goes” mentality, much like we are seeing more and more of today. In fact, that awful and immoral (and as we highlighted, irrational) Australian “lesbian ad” we discussed yesterday was all about trying to convince people through emotional appeal to ignore boundaries.

How do we craft a safe, orderly world for our young children? We create boundaries for them. How do we teach them to have an orderly world of their own as adults? We teach them to create and establish boundaries of their own.

Anyway, just a thought! I had never seen that before — that God’s creation of order out of the tohu and bohu chaos in Genesis 1:2 was through the establishing or restoration of boundaries. Seemed interesting.

Australia’s “You’re having a lesbian” ad versus Logic

By now many have heard of or seen directly the advertisement running in Australia in an effort to increase support for the concept of homosexual “marriage.” If not, here’s the add, from YouTube:

If you didn’t want to watch it, here’s a summary of the essentials. A young couple–a man and a woman with child (notice, pro-abortionists: we still say “with child”; but that’s another blog post)–is visiting their doctor for an ultrasound and listening to the baby’s heartbeat. The doctor asks if they want to know what they are having. They agree that they do, and the doctor tells them, “You’re having a lesbian.” The couple is delighted, and words appear on the screen saying, “Any child can be born gay. So marriage equality is every family’s issue.”

A number of points could be made about this, and surely many are out there making those points. The most common point made is that it has not been scientifically established that people are born with their sexual preferences locked in. Not at all.

However, I’d like to step around that for the moment and address a point that sometimes seems to go unsaid: that the argument underlying the “Homosexuals are born that way so homosexuality must be a morally acceptable choice” propaganda is false from the get go. And looking at why gives us a chance to play with logical structures. And, I admit: that’s the real reason I am bringing this up anyway. 🙂

The argument can be structured in Modus Ponens form:

(1) If homosexual tendencies are genetically determined, then homosexuality must be considered a morally acceptable lifestyle choice.

(2) Homosexual tendencies are genetically determined.

(3) Therefore, homosexuality must be considered a morally acceptable lifestyle choice.

[And, I should note that “genetically determined” is a specific filler for what could be a number of “nature versus nurture” possibilities, such as “determined by inherent brain structures,” etc.]

We have to note that the logical structure is valid, meaning that if premise (1) is true and premise (2) is true, then the conclusion in (3) must be accepted as unavoidably true, also. Therefore, understanding whether the conclusion is true requires us to visit the premises, themselves, to see if they are true. If they are not, then the conclusion cannot be said to be true.

Normally, I see defenders of marriage attacking premise (2), the idea that homosexual tendencies are genetically determined. And I can understand why, since it is taken as a given by an increasing number of people (as illustrated in the Australian ad) even though it has not been established as true at all.

However, I’d like to fill in the gap by pointing out that premise (1) is not true. That is, it is not true to say, “If homosexual tendencies are genetically determined, then homosexuality must be considered a morally acceptable lifestyle choice.”

Of course, according to the Bible it is immediately seen as not true. Outside of liberal thelogians looking to recraft God and Jesus Christ in their own image, this is generally well understood. (Rather than go on at length about this, I happily point folks to the Tomorrow’s World website, where they can search the topic “homosexuality” and read what comes up. Plain truth, folks.) But for someone who hesitates to take the Bible at its word, can it still be shown to be false? Indeed.

Consider substituting “homosexuality” with other conditions that have even stronger ties according to some studies to genetic predisposition. I have read of studies that demonstrate individuals with tendencies toward violence can have genetic predispositions and that some alcoholics can have can have genetic predispositions toward alcohol abuse. Again, these studies–if I recall correctly–show even stronger evidence of a cause and effect relationship. (Which would bring an element of a fortiori.) So consider these statements:

  • If alcoholic tendencies are genetically determined, then alcoholism must be considered a morally acceptable lifestyle choice.
  • If violent tendencies are genetically determined, then violence must be considered a morally acceptable lifestyle choice.

I don’t know anyone who would rationally agree with either of those statements, and, certainly, more could be made. (E.g., Here’s a paper discussing genetic predisposition to drug abuse.) The point is that, no, premise (1) is not acceptable: Even if it were found to be true that homosexual tendencies were genetically determined (again, something not yet achieved, by the way), then it would not follow that homosexuality must be considered a morally acceptable lifestyle choice–not in any way, shape, or form. Genetic predispositions (or other such nature over nurture considerations) make for horrible determiners concerning moral acceptability. Consequently, whether premise (2) is true or not, the conclusion still does not follow as true.

And, frankly, the only reason we are living in a world in which the content of our genes is considered to be viable ground for deciding issues of morality is because we are losing our connection with the only solid source in existence of any absolute morality: An eternal God and Creator.

Gotta love logic. Don’t leave home–or watch TV in Australia–without it.

The Boy Scouts and America’s growing rebellion against God

Well, how sad. In a move that makes no “carnal” or moral sense, the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) has decided to change its position and allow homosexual scouts but not homosexual leaders. If this is news to you, you can read about it here: “Boy Scouts vote to lift ban on [homosexual] youth” (or, frankly, you can read about it just about anywhere; the media seems to be having a party).

Looking purely from an argumentative standpoint, morality aside, the decision seems inept. It is not a compromise that will satisfy those behind the homosexual agenda in the matter. It is only a half-measure, and, as many have already made clear, they will not stop until the whole measure is in place: where distinctions between homosexual and heterosexual identifications play no role at all in Scout matters and homosexuals are allowed as leaders, as well. So the decision won’t end the social pressure. Nor will it change the legal standing of the group in any positive way. Actually it may make things worse, since one of the arguments, as I understand it, that the BSA made to maintain its policies against homosexual participants was that the policy reflected the position of the majority of those who sponsor Scouting, which would include many nominally Christian churches. The positions of those sponsors has not changed appreciably, so the BSA seems to be undercutting one of its own defenses. If the will of its sponsors makes no difference concerning who can be a scout, then why would it make a difference concerning who can be a leader? Again, there is no argumentative sense here.

That it makes no moral sense should be immediately obvious, but perhaps it isn’t so straightforward. The nature of homosexuality has not changed. A scout’s oath to “keep myself… morally straight” has not changed. The public’s opinion of homosexuality is certainly changing, however, so perhaps that’s where it makes sense. Perhaps the BSA has officially agreed that morality is relative and that our standards are completely defined by our society’s current fads and fascinations. If that’s the case, then other parts of the oath, such as “do[ing] my best to do my duty to God” is up for grabs, as well, I suppose.

Regardless, the bid to make it only a matter of accepting homosexual scouts but not homosexual adult leaders is doomed by this call. If one can be “morally straight” and a homosexual before becoming 18-years-old, what makes homosexuality at age 18 and after somehow no longer “morally straight”? If the definition is driven by public sentiment before 18, why is it suddenly an objective absolute after 18? Does a homosexual who has achieved the honored level of Eagle Scout, a recognition that a person is worthy of Scouting’s greatest honor, who turns 18 suddenly have to turn in all of his scouting ties and affiliations and leave the organization, because his age has made him suddenly dishonorable? One who has received the highest honor that Scouting can bestow on a person, representing in many ways the pinnacle of leadership, would be prevented from serving as a leader in the very organization that so recognized him? That doesn’t seem to make sense. I wouldn’t expect that to stand.

The comments I see being made by some BSA decision makers in this is that it will allow them to “serve more kids.” That would seem terribly short-sighted, not to mention rationally incoherent. If it’s a matter of numbers, they would be able to “serve more kids” if they opened up to girls, also. If they are thinking of dropping morality as an issue that they may open the doors wider, then they could, perhaps, “serve more kids” by taking in unrepentantly immoral youth of all sorts. The problem is that they are not simply increasing the numbers they serve in this way; rather, they are fundamentally transforming what it means to say they are “serving” them, at all.

Perhaps I will be surprised. Perhaps they will open the doors to youths who believe they are homosexuals and then be consistently on message that homosexuality is still immoral, and those scouts will be under positive pressure to change, as would any other scout engaged in behavior that is seen as violating their oath. I don’t see any evidence of that, but it is the only way I can imagine such a decision being made that is in any way conceivably consistent with logic and reason.

Well, that and then the possibility that the BSA now does feel that homosexuality is not immoral and that this was the biggest change that they thought they could enact without completely losing all support. Then the goal would be to purposefully undercut their previous arguments so as to have the other changes seem to be “forced” on them so that the end result is that homosexuality is no longer an issue in any way at all. That would be some cold calculating, but not impossible to imagine.

Anyway, my point is that when Mr. Meredith talks about the “falling away” or “rebellion” against God talked about in 2 Thess. 2:3, “Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away [or ‘rebellion’, ‘defection’, ‘revolt’, ‘turning away from a previous standing’] comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition,” we are seeing that happen around us.

His insight that this refers to something huge is not only sound biblically and in the proper use of the Greek language, but we see it reflected in the world around us. The Boy Scouts–a shining light to many who, for years, saw them as an example of an organization willing to stand for what was right no matter cost in public perception–provide yet another example.

Yes, it is true that in the end times many true Christians will turn from the faith–whether to the world’s counterfeit Christianity or to other alternatives. That is a given. Paul says, “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables” (2 Timothy 4:3-4).  As self-declared apostles, self-deluded prophets, and self-appointed teachers multiply, we see this happening at a seemingly increasing pace.

And, yes, it is true that outside the Church there is a vast deficit of the truth. For those whom God has not yet called, they simply do not have those precious truths God reveals only to those He is working with at this time–His Church. Actually being a Christian is more than being called a Christian. We’re hated for it, but we recognize that the “Christ” believed on by the vast majority of what is called “Christianity” is a “counterfeit Christ” — as Paul said, “another Jesus” (2 Cor. 11:4) and not the Jesus of the Bible.

But this does not mean that the rest of the world does not have any “truth” to fall away from or rebel against, at least not according to the Bible. Quite the contrary, consider how God speaks through the apostle of the Gentiles: “…for when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do the things in the law, these, although not having the law, are a law to themselves, who show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness…” (Romans 2:14-15). Not that they had the fullness of God’s revelation, but, rather, that there are some things God has placed inherently within us concerning certain elements of morality. There is nothing in the human heart that inclines it to know that the seventh day is holy to God and should be kept holy. Yet, there is something that says, for instance, that parents are to be respected. And, frankly, that homosexuality is not right.

There is a reason that some moral principles are common even within heathen cultures. It’s the reason that those whom Paul describes as groping for God in their ignorance (Acts 17:27) do have some basic, simple principles of God’s Way inherent in their natures–not all of it by far, to be sure, as the entirety is only available through his revelation and the engagement of His Spirit (1 Cor. 2:14)–such that they are still accountable for their actions when they know they’ve done wrong, if not to the same degree as someone who has not only the basic, natural sense of right and wrong but also the revealed knowledge (Luke 12:47-48).

Yet, what we see around us today is an active casting aside of even those things God, in His mercy, made natural within mankind. Patriarchy-based leadership, the Godly structure of the family which has been most natural to civilization, has been on the outs for some time. We see the willingness of society to butcher its unborn children, the natural inclinations and maternal instinct God has placed within mankind, taking a prideful place as more than a right but, incredibly, a “moral” stand. The list could go on and on. But the BSA decision represents another chapter–or at the least a turn of the page in the same chapter–in this increasing rebellion against even the natural truths God has placed within His creation. Homosexual behavior is immoral. And the pride in those who would actively remove that conviction from our societies–both here and abroad–is revealing. It is the pride one sees in the revolutionary, standing against the establishment with “right” on his side. But the revolution is against God, and the “establishment” is the natural order He designed and a sense of which He imparted as a gift of creation.

God’s pattern with peoples and civilizations before intervention in the past often has been not to bring punishment until the sin reaches its fullness. Biblically, this is seen in multiple examples. Consider God’s comment concerning the Amorites in Genesis 15:16, that He would not bring Israel into the land until after some time had passed, “for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete.” Does that mean that the Amorites were a people to whom God had revealed His truth, like He has to His Church, and that he was waiting for them to fall away from that divine revelation? Of course not. They were already a people removed from the standards of God in their behavior and understanding, but God says they had further to fall away from those standards before He planned to intervene. Frankly, we see the same in God’s ultimate dealings with Israel, in which He gave them so much time to change, but eventually time was up.

We see it with Jonah’s being sent to Nineveh.  Were the people of Ninevah a called people of God in the sense that they had His laws, were keeping His Sabbaths and Holy Days, and were abiding by His commandments? I see no evidence whatsoever that they were. They were not set apart in the same way Israel was, nor were they given God’s laws like Israel was (cf. Deut. 4:7-8). And did they return to the entirety of God’s law after Jonah’s preaching and prophesying–the entirety of a law which was not fully revealed to them? No, they surely did not. But they did respond in the ways they understood to respond? Yes. Did they repent of at least those things their natures told them were wrong? Yes (Jonah 3:7-9). But more importantly, did God recognize the difference for His purposes at that time? Yes, He did, and he delayed their destruction (Jonah 3:10). Not having the fullness of God’s revealed truth did not prevent them from, as a civilization, having fallen even further from those inherent standards of right and wrong God has allowed to exist in all human beings, nor did it mean that God did not care if they were falling further from those standards or seeking to return to them. Clearly, He did.

The pattern of waiting until “transgressors have reached their fullness” (Dan. 8:23) is a biblical theme, describing the actions of the God of the Bible. And these very biblical ideas–that iniquity may be present without yet being complete, that transgression may not have yet reached its fullness, and that a people without the full revelation of the law can still be held accountable for rebelling against the part they do naturally know and then even shown some mercy for returning to that part–mean that it is possible for those who live in a fallen state with regard to the truth to fall further away, and that those who live in a state of general rebellion can still rebel to greater extent. The idea that one who is in a state of being apart from the fullness of the truth cannot fall away or rebel in a more climactic sense simply has no biblical basis at all.

There are many examples and relevant passages one could review. I will use only one more before I begin to beat the dead horse too excessively… Consider what Paul says of the Gentiles in Romans 1:18-32. It is correctly taken axiomatically that the Gentiles he speaks of, such as in the Greco-Roman world, did not have the special revelation of God concerning all of His beautiful law and understanding, yet he stresses that they had at least that which could be naturally known, from the world around them (v.20) to their own natural design (v.28), and that–even without the fullness of the spiritual revelation–God held them accountable for their rebellion and their falling away from what they did know, explaining that they were choosing not to retain God in their minds (v.28), even if that understanding would have been limited, and that for this rebellion they were deserving of death (v.32).

Anyone who claims that it is impossible for those who don’t have the full truth of God to fall further away from God or to rebel to an even deeper extent simply haven’t read enough of their Bibles. (And I would have been such an “anyone” in the far enough past, but thankfully the Bible’s a hard book to resist!) And those who think God doesn’t notice when organizations like the Boy Scouts make the sorts of decisions like they have recently and doesn’t consider it a worsening of their state and a further distancing themselves from God also don’t seem to know their Bible.

In 2 Timothy 3:1-5, Paul describes the End Time state of affairs:

“But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!”

In the verses afterwards, he describes the impact of this attitude on the Church, specifically, including its reflection in events of his time. But it would be dangerously foolish to think that because he addresses that description in the context of its impact on and within the Church that he is not speaking of a condition that will be true for the whole world, in general. Who would think that?

And we see this state coming into shape in our world right before our very eyes.

However incompletely and imperfectly, to the extent they understood it the Boy Scouts sought to reflect a “love of God” in their organization, and enshrined that love in their oath. Their desire to impart moral goodness to boys and young men had a semblance of godliness. But in embracing something unholy, they step closer to being despisers of good, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, and to denying any power or authority in the form of godliness they seek to maintain. If we don’t see in the Boy Scouts’ decision yet another step toward the world described by 2 Timothy 3, then we aren’t looking.

As Paul says, from such people turn away.