Josh Hetzler

VA Health Boards are Literally Banning the Gospel

The Virginia Boards of Counseling, Psychology, and Social Work have recently decided to wage an unprovoked war with the object of destroying not only basic human biology and the rights of Christian professionals in these fields, but in fact the very message of the Gospel itself.

Seeking to use the coercive power of the state to ban so-called “conversion therapy,” these health boards are on a zealous pursuit to punish any licensed counselor, psychologist, or social worker merely for speaking with a minor client with the aim of helping them to reduce or eliminate unwanted feelings of same-sex sexual attractions or gender dysphoria. In other words – for aiding a young person, in a culture of unprecedented confusion, to recognize and embrace their personhood as God designed – a fully, biological, immutable, unmistakable male or female with a complementarian sexual nature and body. 

These McAuliffe-Northam appointed Boards have now made it their official position to condemn “conversion therapy” because (citing the American Counseling Association) “it does not work, can cause harm, and violates our Code of Ethics.” In doing so, they reprehensibly ignore – and even deny the very existence of – countless individuals who through counseling have found healing and transformation from their LGBTQ-defined past. Not only is change and wholeness possible for people seeking to overcome those very real feelings, but many who obtain therapy go on to lead far healthier and happier lives. That’s according to their own personal testimonies – read some of them at CHANGED, Fearless Identity Inc., and Freedom March

In spite of this undeniable proof, these Boards actually maintain that giving professional guidance to a confused and developing child towards accepting the biological realities of their unchangeable sex is categorically HARMFUL to the child! Despite having received a combined total of zero client complaints ever from this therapy, these Boards are nevertheless going out of their way to ensure that any licensed professional counselor, psychologist, or social worker who dares to assist a child in this way will face losing their state-issued license to practice altogether.

Now consider that, according to a recent Gallup poll, a full 75% of Americans self-identify as Christian. The basic message and belief of the Christian faith, boiled down to its essence is that, while every person is affected by, even enslaved to, and spiritually dead in their sinful state, God stepped in and made a way for us to be made holy and new. Through faith in His son Jesus, God makes us spiritually alive with a new nature subservient to His will for us, and no longer captives to our old inclinations or ways of thinking. That, in a nutshell, is what Christians call “the gospel.” (Gospel means “good news.”)

Yet these Boards’ new position stands in direct opposition to the central claim of the gospel, which Christians recognize as the great – and only – hope for mankind. With these policies, the Boards are actually preaching a false ‘anti-Gospel’ message to every child struggling with sexual hurt, confusion, and brokenness that:  a) There is nothing wrong with them, b) That they cannot possibly be healed, and that there is no hope for a renewed mind no matter how much they may desire it, and c) The real sin would be to seek to mend what they recognize as broken inside of them. The Apostle Paul preached just the opposite:

“Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” (1 Corinthians 6:9-11)

Note the pivotal phrase in that passage: “And such WERE some of you.” That is to say, some of them used to be characterized, controlled, or defined by those old passions and habits (including homosexuality, which was very culturally acceptable at that time), but not anymore! For those who had experienced the transformational power of the “good news” of Jesus, they were gone. As Paul reminded them, “you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”

Romans 12:2 offers further evidence of the same message: “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

Whether or not these Boards comprehend that they are targeting and rejecting the very essence of the Christian faith, it doesn’t change the direct impact on Christian professionals’ resulting inability to incorporate the transformational power of the Gospel into their therapy for many who need it and are desperately seeking it. Their policies effectively guarantee that countless struggling and confused children will not be able to receive that guidance from a licensed professional, making it that much more difficult for them to thrive in the body in which they were created – and at the most critical developmental time in their life for those struggles to be addressed and resolved.

Hence, for Virginia’s health regulatory Boards to ban “Conversion Therapy” is for the government to officially deny the validity and power of the Christian Gospel to transform hearts, minds and lives, AND to deny licensed professionals, by threat of force, their fundamental right to share this Gospel with clients who are open to, and even seeking it.

If the Boards are successful in their attempt to do this, it would certainly mark the beginning of a new era in our civil and political landscape. And if somehow they prevail, and the courts do not correct their error, let us pray that those licensed professionals who have themselves experienced the transformative power of the gospel will have the courage to say to those in authority, just as the Apostle Peter did in Acts 5:29, “We must obey God rather than men.”

Why We Need More “Thoughts and Prayers”

Governor Northam just unveiled his “Gun Violence Prevention” legislation ahead of the July 9th Special Session, which he called in response to the recent shooting at a Virginia Beach municipal center. In his statement, he rightly points out that “We continue to lose too many lives to senseless and preventable acts of gun violence.” But it’s what the Governor said next – as his top-line messaging, no less – that should really get our attention.  

“Now is the time to act—Virginians deserve votes and laws, not thoughts and prayers,” he declared.

It sounds catchy, even clever. It strikes me initially as the kind of “tough talk” one appreciates in a chief executive from time to time. The problem is, it’s not true. But not only is it not true, the exact opposite is true.

Here’s what I mean. The Governor reveals his view of the world as being that if anything bad happens in society, it’s primarily because the government wasn’t big enough to prevent it in the first place, and therefore the necessary solution to every problem is more “votes and laws.” Under his philosophy, if we can just pass some more laws, so that the state can exercise maximum control over people, we will be able to ensure peace, order, and the preservation of life. A cursory review of the 20th century amply demonstrates the tragic folly of this theory.

But his worldview doesn’t stop there. He goes even further by indicating that Virginians do not need “thoughts and prayers” as a response or solution for evil and suffering that is hard to make sense of. To him, these are meaningless platitudes void of any real power or influence. The great irony here is that these are exactly what we need more of if we are to have any hope of preventing much of the evil in our midst, while the laws he seeks to enact could never stop anyone determined to carry out destruction.     

If we want to prevent evils in society, we should start by encouraging more “thoughtful” dialogue among people, especially when it is typically those in isolation and with misguided thinking who are most prone to hurting others in the ways we too often see. And we need more prayer – both in our individual lives and corporately. We have to realize that while every one of us has so very little control over others and society, we have the tremendous opportunity to appeal to the One who has all control. We must also recognize that it will require a much greater force than civil government to make men good. Only by loving one another, learning how to walk and communicate in love, and drawing strength and purpose from the God who IS love can we actually successfully prevent such great evil acts. I can’t say what “Virginians deserve”, but I know that is what they need.

The best way for anybody to experience that kind of thoughtfulness and to learn that kind of spiritual truth is in the context of a loving family. Every person enters this world and finds his or her identity largely in the context of a family. The solution for senseless acts of violence is not more government – it’s strong families. And in order to cultivate strong families, government has to stay out of the way.

So, to Governor Northam and all Virginians, I say: Now is the time to act – Virginians need more thoughtfulness and fervent prayer, not votes and laws.

The State’s New Policy on "Preferred Pronouns"

The Family Foundation has consistently opposed and successfully defeated bills each year aimed at adding “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” to state employment matters, and with good reason. Yesterday, Governor Northam once again illustrated the dilemma with laws that sound tolerant but ignore objective realities.

Formally unveiling his “Employment Equity Initiative for State Agencies,” its stated purpose is to ensure that the “state employment application and compensation policies will promote fair and equitable pay.” Sounds reasonable enough, although one should always be wary of a government that “fixes” a problem of which no actual examples are ever shared.  This often points to a favorite expression in the halls of the General Assembly—a solution in search of a problem.

Upon closer review, one might legitimately question whether the problem to be “fixed” is not one of inequitable compensation among state employees, but the desire to advance an insidious policy shift to align with the LGBTTQQIAAP+++ agenda. The Governor’s Press Release goes on: “The streamlined application will eliminate salary history, school name, age indicator, and other fields with potential for unconscious bias; offer a preferred pronoun to highlight the state’s diversity and inclusion efforts;” (Emphasis mine.)

Preferred pronouns, of course, reflect the implicit – and now apparently, official – recognition of the erroneous notion that a person’s sex as either male or female may not actually have any correlation to what the rest of us must now be compelled to refer to them as. Under such conditions, one can NEVER safely assume that a person who looks like a man, talks like a man, identifies as a man, or even has male chromosomes (XY) should be referenced using male pronouns. If “gender” is now something entirely separate and unrelated to “sex”, then the ONLY way to avoid such the grave “error” of “misgendering” is to specifically ask each and every person right up front which pronouns he/she/it/they/etc. wish to be called (and then to keep them all straight and never forget). The Governor’s change to the state application process effectively formalizes this practice – and expectation – in all interpersonal interactions within state government. 

But as unwieldy and cumbersome (not to mention outrageous) as this may sound, it’s not nearly that simple. In today’s ever-evolving sexual paradigm, we’ve seen that pronouns will no longer be limited to the “traditional” binary and static male-female terms of he/him/his and she/her/hers. No, we will most certainly have to account for those who identify as NEITHER male NOR female, and those who identify as BOTH male AND female, as well as those who identify as one or the other interchangeably and perhaps sporadically throughout the day. And of course, we can’t forget about those who identify as having no gender at all. (What pronouns must we use for… such persons??)

And that’s just getting started. What of all of the other claimed “genders” besides male and female? What about the genderqueer, the genderfluid, the pansexual, the non-binary, the “others”, and the as-of-yet unknowns of infinite variety? Already, in common usage in some places, the following “non-binary” pronoun sets have been created: 

-          they/their/them/themself (for an individual)

-          "ey," "em," "eir," "eirs," and "eirself"

-          "zie," "zim," "zir," "zirs," and "zirself"

In theory and in principle, the list of made-up “pronoun” words could be endless. Consider this very real headline from 2016: University of Michigan student changes name to 'His Majesty' following new 'inclusive' pronoun policy  May this student, or in our case, any person applying for and working in Virginia state government insist on the right to be referred to as “His Majesty” – even when speaking of that person outside of [His Majesty’s] presence – simply because such person declares such a desire?

Some may charge me here with embellishing or claim I’m unfairly employing a “slippery slope” argument. In fact, I am only recognizing and applying the simple logic at the heart of this issue: If the only limitation on adopting an individual’s “preferred gender pronouns” (and then expecting everyone else to acquiesce in both their speech and conduct) is that each individual must merely declare them, then anyone can claim any pronouns at any time and impose their usage upon everyone.  The law, by its very essence, sets up parameters for behavior. By contrast, this policy sets up a paradigm within which there are no parameters, and is therefore the very definition of lawlessness.

We must next ask a question of even greater consequence: Can a Virginia state employee now be punished for conscientiously refusing to – or even accidentally failing to – use pronouns incongruent with their colleagues’ known biological sex? And if so, how? While it does not appear that these questions have yet been answered, we already watched a beloved West Point High School French teacher, Peter Vlaming, be fired simply for conscientiously declining to use male pronouns for a female student – even despite his efforts to avoid all conflict by not using any pronouns at all!

This termination was only possible after the School Board had passed a sexual orientation/gender identity policy. Can there be any doubt that the current and future administrations would absolutely purge anyone who would not buy into the new sexual orthodoxy to the point of speaking things they disbelieve and may even violate their conscience?

There are numerous other potentialities with this policy. For instance, will the person who identifies with different pronouns on his application but isn’t chosen for the position or even given an interview now have an easy claim of employment discrimination based upon “gender identity”? The state should expect to have to defend plenty of new lawsuits, to be sure. Moreover, which bathrooms will employees use who don’t identify as either male or female, or even any gender at all? Will new categories of bathrooms have to be installed to accommodate everyone’s use of the facilities?

Allow me to summarily diagnose what is really going on here: Whenever the truth is abandoned, even as a result of gender dysphoria, it leads to uncertainty and chaos in real people’s lives. And when, as here, that same abandonment actually becomes incorporated into the policies which implicate everyone – not just those who’ve chosen to abandon the truth – we will experience that uncertainty and chaos on a much larger and more palpable scale. These consequences are simply unavoidable. So get your popcorn, folks, and get ready to watch some very interesting and inevitable drama.  

Abortion Trial: Defense Makes Its Case

This week, the Commonwealth is making its defense of Virginia’s common-sense pro-life laws under siege from the abortion industry in federal court in the high-stakes case of Falls Church Medical Center, LLC v. Oliver.  Today marked the end of Day 2 of the Defense’s case, as so far six expert witnesses have taken the stand.

Yesterday, four separate respected and long-time employees of the Virginia Department of Health’s Office of Licensure and Certification (OLC) (all of whom, it should be noted, serve within the administration of pro-infanticide Ralph Northam, and all of whom served under former Governor Terry McAuliffe) hammered home their belief that the health and safety standards for abortion facilities through regulations first initiated in 2012 are reasonable, helpful, and clearly necessary for patient safety and care.

The witnesses included two experienced inspectors of the abortion facilities since 2012 who have personally witnessed and cited many of the 500+ horrific abortion facility violations, including those of the former Virginia Health Group in Fairfax, whose license was immediately and indefinitely suspended in April 2016 by Gov. McAuliffe’s own Commissioner of Health after a 70-page inspection report revealed violations so gut-wrenching that it was deemed to be an immediate danger to patient safety.

When the witness inspector recounted first entering that facility for an inspection that was triggered by a patient complaint, she described how “When we walked in, the things that we observed were very concerning to us.” She described a dirty patient waiting area, with furniture that was all stained and in disrepair, “filthy” carpets, and holes and graffiti on the walls. “And that was just the waiting area,” she remarked.

Other violations included dirty, unsanitized equipment, dried blood on surfaces, dust and debris on machines, stopped up toilets (where a nurse walked out into the hall with a plunger in her hands and then immediately went to begin a procedure without washing her hands), boxes of patient files stacked in the patient bathroom, poor infection control procedures, unmarked syringes laid on dirty desks and contaminated from one surface to another, and general failure of employees to wash hands before or after procedures. At one point, the physician, without washing his hands, put on gloves to perform a procedure, then came back to his office, took off the gloves, and immediately reached into a box of donuts with his unwashed hands. (And this is just what they do when the state inspectors are watching!)

One of the patient records that had been randomly pulled for auditing purposes showed that the patient had to be rushed to the emergency room because the physician had caused a laceration of her cervix while performing an abortion. The facility did not even have sutures on the premises to help stop the bleeding! This was just one abortion facility, on one occasion. But it really drove home the point about why regulatory oversight of these facilities is so critical. It really blew wide open the Plaintiffs’ attempt to claim that all of these health and safety oversight policies are burdensome and unnecessary.

Day Two of the Defense’s case showcased a Board Certified OBGYN, who laid out the strong case for why a 24-hour wait period prior to an abortion, a required ultrasound and informed consent procedures, and the limitation on performing abortions to physicians only are all well-justified laws for securing patient safety, care, and medical best practices. She also explained the serious potential complications of abortions at various stages of development, and why it was so important that later-term abortions be performed only in a hospital setting rather than a typical abortion facility patient room. The Plaintiiffs’ lawyer did everything she could to discredit her by targeting her Christian faith and life-affirming personal beliefs, including her associations with a CareNet pregnancy resource center, where she serves as the volunteer Medical Director, having performed over 1000 free ultrasounds in the past three years alone. They also took issue with her membership in AAPLOG (American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists). Sad, but not surprising.

Finally, an economist discredited the abortion industry’s expert testimonies which attempted to imply that these laws had somehow caused an undue burden on some Virginia women seeking abortions. The economist analyzed their testimonies and clearly showed how they had not shown any causal link between the laws and women’s ability to access abortion facilities, which is their burden to prove in this case, and the central issue in the case.

On Thursday, the Defense will wrap up it’s case, and the Plaintiff’s will bring in a few rebuttal witnesses on Friday. Then it’s on to closing arguments. Judge Hudson seems to be asking all the right questions throughout the trial, which indicates that he really gets what’s going on. Overall, I’d say the Defense has really, as they say, shown up ready to fight. And, well, that is much more than we expected. There is much reason for optimism, but cautious optimism to be sure.    

Restating The Obvious

These days, it is increasingly our task to point people back to the principles they know intuitively, but which are rapidly going out of fashion. Paradoxically, this task becomes both easier and harder every day. That’s because we’re living in a time in which the obvious has become the unspeakable, while the once-unspeakable has become the unquestionable. In such times, there is only one thing to do if we are to have any hope of restoring our sanity – and humanity: Restate the obvious, and do it often and without fear. Here’s a good start.

We hold these Truths to be self-evident:

  • An unborn child is a life, not a choice.

  • The intentional destruction of innocent human life is wrong.

  • There are males and there are females, and one cannot become the other.

  • Male and female form a complementary pair both in body and spirit that is distinct from all other pairings.

  • Only the sexual components of both a man and a woman can bring about new human life.

  • Married biological parents afford the most natural and optimal environment within which children may be nurtured, protected, trained, and affirmed.

  • Mothers and Fathers are not interchangeable.

  • Fathers, whether present or absent, play a crucial role in the life of every child.

  • Parents are generally the most reliable arbiters of what is in their children’s best interests.

  • Marriage brings positive stability to adults, children, families, the marketplace, and society at large.

  • Strong, loving families beget healthy, industrious individuals and communities.

  • People with strong family ties are less likely to turn to the government for help in meeting their needs.

  • Man’s duties to his Creator take precedence over those he owes to all others.

  • As a government’s power and scope increase, individual freedoms decrease.  

  • Governments closer to the people are more accountable and responsive to the people.

  • Governments, like all other human-led institutions, are subject ultimately to the Creator of all things.

  • Private charitable enterprises are far more efficient and effective in meeting individual needs than impersonal government-based aid.  

  • Religious faith instills moral values for individual behaviors, which in turn makes ordered liberty possible.  

Senator Amanda Chase: The Face of Courage

I’m going to guess that Senator Amanda Chase (R-Chesterfield) surely did not foresee the severity of the backlash that would come her way before she unflinchingly stepped up to the podium at last week’s “Conversion Therapy Work Group” meeting, during which she cautioned against a policy proposal guaranteed to significantly undermine parental rights, patient autonomy, free speech, religious liberty, and the very notion of truth itself. I also get the distinct impression that, had she been able to foresee the consequences ahead of time, she wouldn’t have changed a thing. The General Assembly could really use a few more legislators with that kind of courage, fortitude, and moral clarity.

As soon as Senator Chase posted about her involvement in the meeting on her Facebook page, the sharks began circling, and the madness inherent in the so-called “conversion therapy” discussion ensued. Passions ran high on all sides, but especially among those disinclined to recognize objective biological realities. Critical comments are to be expected towards legislators, but this was at a different level. And that was just Facebook.

Two days later, Senator Chase was being lambasted by Richmond2Day, which seemed to mostly take issue with the fact that she often provides retorts to statements from hostile constituents on social media. The real story here should be that Senator Chase actually takes the time to personally acknowledge and interact with her constituents - even the ones who disagree with her on various issues. A legislator who actively listens to and engages with her constituents? How refreshing. Moreover, she even talks openly about current issues on her weekly radio show, including this topic, which was featured on last week's show.

But what was it about this particular situation that caused Senator Chase to become the object of so much fury? She had the audacity to stand up on behalf of the General Assembly, struggling children, concerned parents, professional counselors, and people of faith and declare that children should be able to receive professional guidance when they are experiencing unwanted same-sex attractions or confusion about their biological sex, that we should trust parents to seek therapeutic methods that are in the best interest of their children and in accordance with their faith, and that we should permit counselors the professional latitude to help their clients through a variety of reasonable methods. I suspect that what really sent some over the edge, though, was that Senator Chase dared to stand before a body of mostly liberal bureaucratic "professionals" and clearly imply that, when it comes to the new radical agenda to force misaligned sexual identities onto vulnerable children, "the emperor has no clothes."

Plenty of others also showed up to share a similar message, including professional counselors, individuals who had received such counseling, pastors, and citizens of goodwill. But none besides Senator Chase had to subsequently face the firing squad - because she's an elected official, and well, elected officials are supposed to know to stay away from such "controversial" issues. For the sake of our Commonwealth and the many people impacted by this proposal, I'm glad Senator Chase didn't shy away from speaking the truth on such an explosive, but critically important, matter. The Family Foundation was there to address the Work Group, but we were grateful to have had a legislator lay the groundwork for our cause up front.   

The Family Foundation stands resolutely behind Senator Chase and any other legislators who stand up to fight for children, parents, counselors, free speech, and religious liberty. Others are definitely out there, but our Commonwealth could use a few more. 

2018: Dogs > Humans

Things in the Virginia General Assembly continue to get more and more interesting, if not downright ironic. The seeds of secular humanism are now in the process of full bloom in the Old Dominion. 

Already, one legislator has introduced a bill that makes it more difficult to euthanize a dog or a cat, while at the same time she has pushed for physician-assisted suicide.

Now just let that one sink in for a moment. 

Call us out of touch, but we believe that every human life is sacred, and that human beings are more valuable than cats and dogs - even as much as we all love our pets. 

Our parents, the State

Mississippi has become the latest test case for determining parental rights of same-sex couples where one of the adults has no biological relation to the child. Nationwide, disputes are raging about what the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to impose its redefinition of marriage on all 50 states now means for designations of parenthood, which prior to its opinion, rested on a paradigm that recognized children as the biological creation of a male (i.e. “father”) and female (i.e. “mother”).

But now with the Court’s 2015 same-sex marriage opinion in Obergefell v. Hodges, and even more recently with the Court’s decision in Pavan v. Smith (2017) requiring both adults in a same-sex marriage to be listed on birth certificates, that long-standing paradigm has necessarily shifted. The “logical” effects are unavoidable: To dispense with biology in the marital union is to upend it in matters of parenthood too.   

Aside from the most glaring harm of intentionally and officially depriving countless children of either their father or their mother for a lifetime, we should not fail to recognize that the further we go down this road of separating parental rights from biological ties, the closer we move towards enabling the State to usurp parental rights altogether. It’s not rocket science. Once having removed the most sacred, significant, and objective measure of parenthood from its nature – biological procreation – the State by default will delegate authority and recognize rights of parenthood however and to whomever it pleases.

This of course means that while some people stand to gain in this newly constructed system of parenthood, many others will lose and lose big, since a biological connection to one’s child can no longer be afforded any special weight for parenthood determinations in a post-Obergefell society.  

This also means that children, and therefore all people, will increasingly become subjects of the State rather than citizens in a free society. (Historical Note: We fought a revolution to untether ourselves from that very kind of tyranny.) There is just no way around it; when marriage and parenthood are defined ultimately by the State, the State naturally assumes the ultimate and unrestricted role of parens patriae.

Welcome to the world, little one. Meet your Parents, the State. (who will assign to you your designated “official parents”)

We’ve seen this before (just elsewhere), and we will be no exception unless we decide to reverse course. What we should have learned by now is that the extent to which the government intrudes upon the dominion of the family, we lose in equal measure the opportunity to govern ourselves. And when that happens, we cease to be free.

Even if, in the end, we were all theoretically okay with that arrangement, we should still know that the State can never be an effective parent for any child. Contrary to the oft-quoted adage, it really doesn’t take a village to raise a child. It takes a mom and a dad. Knowing this to be true, as citizens in a free society (who wish to so remain), we owe it to every child and every parent to see that by all means – governmental and nongovernmental – they are ensured that opportunity.   

Judge: Ultrasound More Harmful Than Abortion

A federal judge in Kentucky just struck down a state law requiring an ultrasound to be performed and an opportunity for the woman to see the image and to hear her baby’s heartbeat before an abortion.

According to the judge, "Requiring physicians to force upon their patients the information mandated by HB2 [the law] has more potential to harm the psychological well-being of the patient than to further the legitimate interests of the Commonwealth.” (Never mind that no woman is required to actually view the image or listen to the heartbeat.)

Wow. That’s some kind of legal reasoning. Which is to say, it has nothing to do with legal analysis at all, but is instead prudential and therefore a political judgment reserved exclusively for the legislative body. But shucks, who concerns themselves with federalism anymore?  

So let me get this straight. According to this federal judge, it is more harmful for a woman to see and to hear that there is baby in her womb than for the abortionist to skip all that, rip the child apart inside her womb, and then send her on her merry way (since apparently, the latter is the state’s only “legitimate interest”)? Unbelievable though it may be, that appears to be what this judge is saying.

Then again, I suppose he may be right in one sense. It absolutely must be more psychologically scarring for a woman to see her formed child and to hear its separate heartbeat and then to give assent for the “doctor” to terminate her baby, than it would be if she and her abortionist just simply avoided any acknowledgment of her baby to begin with. On the other hand, it seems not to have occurred to this judge that the woman may be inclined, after seeing a 4-D image of her child and listening to its heartbeat, to choose life for her child and motherhood for herself. Did Judge Hale factor into his seemingly omniscient judgment the incomparable joy of motherhood for the many women who would carry their child to term as a result of the information provided to them by this law? It appears not.

But the judge didn’t stop there. In his decision, he wrote that HB2 "overtly trumpet[s] the anti-abortion preference of the legislature and is ideological in nature." Alright, what law school did this guy go to? Or better yet, who appointed him to the federal bench? (Hint: Judge Hale assumed his seat in 2014.)

So according to Judge Hale, laws apparently can no longer demonstrate a preference for life over abortion OR be ideological by nature? By the latter standard alone, this would necessarily eliminate the possibility of passing any more bills ever, since all laws are premised on certain ideological precepts. While the idea of preventing legislative bodies from passing any more laws is tempting, it is clearly untenable. (Though perhaps not for Judge Hale, who seems perfectly comfortable to assert himself as the maker of law by judicial decree.)

And then there’s the ACLU who, to no one’s surprise, filed this suit on behalf of a Kentucky abortion center, arguing in its complaint that "HB2 requires physicians to subject their patients to these images, descriptions, and sounds, when the patient is in a particularly vulnerable and exposed position."

Well of course the patient is in a particularly vulnerable and exposed position. And that’s precisely why Kentuckians felt it was important for a woman to know as much as possible about what it is she’s about to do before she makes such a life-altering decision for herself and a life-ending one for her child. But what the ACLU is saying – and Judge Hale apparently agrees – is that for women “in a particularly vulnerable and exposed position” inside an abortion center, they cannot be given any reason to change their mind and choose life. No, they MUST choose abortion, because that’s what women NEED in their time of particular vulnerability. Trust us. We know best.

Now is that not about the most twisted and patronistic thing you’ve ever heard? I might say “you just can’t make this stuff up,” but then, clearly they did.

So much for being “pro-choice.” It’s become increasingly clear that the forces on the left couldn’t care less about being either pro-women or pro-choice, even as they claim to be the champion for both. Incidents like this expose them as the champion of only one mantle: “pro-abortion.”

But it’s okay, you see, because that’s not “ideological.” It’s amazing how blind some have become to their own inherent biases. 

Diversity = Uniformity

All around the country, in public high schools like this one, school boards and administrators are doing away with separate-colored graduation gowns for senior boys and girls on their big day – a practice that, for many schools, has been a long-cherished tradition. But long-cherished traditions, as we know, are increasingly unwelcome in our enlightened culture, and in many cases even considered harmful or discriminatory.

Of course, multi-colored gowns are just one of the many necessary casualties in the Left’s zealous quest to stamp out all gender norms and distinctions. A lot of students and parents aren’t happy about the change, you say? Bigots! You mean, parents and communities actually kinda think there’s something special about their girls wearing one color gown and their boys wearing another? Narrow-minded transphobes!

Yet I get the impression that most school officials aren’t changing the gown tradition simply so that they can actively champion the new gender-neutral orthodoxy. For the most part, the monochromatic gowns are a reaction – a move they see as a necessary solution – to requests by boys to wear the girls’ color or by girls to wear the boys’ color. These are generally students who self-identify as being the gender opposite their own, and who obviously feel justifiably entitled to have long-established cultural and biological morés transformed to meet their latest teenage desire, even at the expense of everyone else’s reasonably justified desires.   

We have to empathize with the school officials here. They’ve been put in a no-win situation. They can:

1)    Say no to the “transgender” student and continue with their long-established tradition, but face a lawsuit in federal court, and worse, the concentrated scorn of the cultural Left (and possibly lose their career within education).  

2)    Allow the student to wear the colored gown designated for the opposite gender, and thereby give credibility (and undue attention) to this gender theory that says there is no functional difference between girls and boys (and thereby undermine the entire reason for separate color gowns). OR,

3)    Opt for a “middle ground,” a “compromise,” a “silver bullet” that can avoid the negative consequences of a yes or a no (or so they think). They can just scrap the whole two-color gown thing and make everyone wear the same gown.

Faced with these choices, many high schools are opting for Option #3. And who could blame them? So there we have it, problem solved!

Not so fast. We must be very careful not to miss what’s happening here. It’s the classic tactic of “two steps forward, one step back.” And frankly, it’s brilliant, because it’s working.

As society attempts to formally recognize every possible viewpoint and identity as having equal validity among all others – all in the name of “diversity” (as if diversity is somehow intrinsically good) – the inevitable consequence is that we go from real diversity to uniformity and then conformity. Without fail, you can bet the farm, this happens every time. "Diversity" is now being overshadowed by "inclusiveness." Yet what results is "sameness." Forcing everyone to wear the same colored graduation gowns is just one recent example. 

When school officials decide not to stand up for the truth about human nature (in this case, with gender differences), they will predictably be seen doing what thereafter naturally flows: rushing to establish a one-size-fits-all standard for students based upon the “least common denominator” (instead of striving for truth and excellence), avoiding potential conflicts at all costs (instead of addressing the underlying factors creating the conflict), and eradicating all traces of actual or perceived “inequalities” (instead of challenging students to excel and holding them accountable for their actions).

When this happens, the good and healthy forms of diversity, as well as excellence itself, become necessary casualties. Uniformity is exalted as the greatest value. And then, well, you know the rest. All you have to do is take a look across the pond at most other places in the world, whose people by the way will do just about anything to get into the "land of the free" and the "home of the brave."

Be very careful not to miss what's happening under our noses. We’re a frog in a pot, and the water is already simmering. The path of least resistance is often the path to our own undoing.  

It’s Not About Wedding Cakes

What’s all the hype about wedding cakes in recent days? And why will a lawsuit involving a cake maker prove to be the most closely-watched and scrutinized decision the U.S. Supreme Court announces all year? You might even be thinking: Well I like cake and all, but who knew it was that important?

If you hadn’t picked up on it by now, when it comes to cultural battles – and especially the ones played out at the level of the Supreme Court – the issue is almost never really the issue. That is to say, the seemingly small thing over which highly divergent metaphysical universes are colliding is simply the vehicle chosen to carry a more fundamental idea across the goal line. In this latest faceoff, that vehicle is a cake designer and his creation of a custom wedding cake.

While a wedding cake is not exactly a need for human survival, nor something that the average person encounters in his daily life, there is at stake within this cake a very fundamental value, which for one side may be the most fundamental of all: An individual’s right to live according to the dictates of his conscience, informed by his sincerely-held religious beliefs. On the opposite side stands the alleged right to be free from discrimination on the basis of “sexual orientation” in places of “public accommodation.”

The competing questions could thus be posed: Should a wedding cake artist/designer be forced to create a cake for a same-sex wedding ceremony if doing so would violate his deeply-held religious beliefs about the nature of marriage and thereby make him feel complicit in celebrating something he believes dishonors God? And on the other side: Should a person be denied a service by a business, who holds itself out as serving the public, on the basis of that person’s sexual practices and preferences or because they hold a different view about the nature of marriage and wish to celebrate it accordingly? 

Prudent minds should be raising an important question: Can’t Christian cake artists and same-sex couples who want a custom wedding cake peacefully coexist? Is it really too much to ask that each side gets what it wants, and everyone can go home happy?

Yes and no. But it depends on who’s being asked.

It would seem that if Christian cake artists can do business without violating their consciences and same-sex couples can still get their dream wedding cake, then there is really no conflict after all. And if that’s the case, we can all just get on with our lives. The universes need not collide.

As a matter of fact, that’s exactly what unraveled here. After Jack Phillips of Masterpiece Cakeshop declined to design a custom wedding cake for a same-sex couple, other local bakeries responded by offering to design a wedding cake for them and give it to them for FREE. My goodness – that sounds like more than a win-win. In the end, the same-sex couple was actually better off. Not only did it become quickly apparent that the couple had plenty of options for willing cake designers, but some even wanted to go above and beyond to bless them in their circumstances.

Jack Phillips, on the other hand, was arguably worse off, since the public backlash against him for his decision not to design the couple’s wedding cake caused his business to lose about 40% of its revenue. But from Jack’s perspective, his commitment to God is more important than money or popularity, and at least he gets to continue to live his life – including running his business – in accordance with his faith.       

But lest we forget, this was never about a wedding cake. The same-sex couple decided to sue Jack anyway, willing even to press their cause all the way to the highest court in the land. For this couple and the many like them who feel vicariously represented, it’s not enough to “live and let live.” It isn’t sufficient that they be able to obtain the services they’re looking for, even if it can’t be from Jack. No, they must ensure that no one ever dares to suggest that their concepts of marriage and sexuality are anything but normal, beautiful and good. Not only must Jack create for them a cake if they want one; he must join with them in celebrating a union anathema to his most deeply-held convictions. And he must serve as an example to all others like him that they had better give up their religious convictions about marriage and sexuality or else be ready to forfeit their business, their reputation, and their livelihood.

That’s what this case is really about.

While the Supreme Court may have recently granted a newfound right for same-sex couples to participate in the union called marriage, it did not (and indeed, cannot) grant to them the ability to deny to others their long-recognized freedoms, like Jack Phillips’ rights to free exercise of religion, speech, and expression in choosing not to design a cake for a religious ceremony. As the saying goes, “You can’t have your cake and eat it too.” Or better yet, “You can’t have your cake and deny others their freedom too.”

Rest assured, this case never was about wedding cakes. At base it’s about whether we as a society will continue to recognize that each person has a supreme duty to God and that the rest of us, therefore, have a corresponding duty to permit them to fulfill it. No less than this determination is at stake when the Supreme Court renders its opinion. As it does so, the Justices would do well to consider the following portion of Article I Section 16 of Virginia’s Bill of Rights:

“That religion or the duty which we owe to our Creator, and the manner of discharging it, can be directed only by reason and conviction, not by force or violence; and, therefore, all men are equally entitled to the free exercise of religion, according to the dictates of conscience; and that it is the mutual duty of all to practice Christian forbearance, love, and charity towards each other. No man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever, nor shall be enforced, restrained, molested, or burthened in his body or goods, nor shall otherwise suffer on account of his religious opinions or belief; but all men shall be free to profess and by argument to maintain their opinions in matters of religion, and the same shall in nowise diminish, enlarge, or affect their civil capacities.”

Abortion Group: Free Abortions for Flood Victims

Do you live in or near Houston, TX? Do you feel especially vulnerable and desperate and want an abortion but lack the means to get one because of the extensive flooding in your area? No worries…just come on down for your easy no-cost abortion on demand!

That’s the way at least one group has decided to step in and “help” (read: take advantage of) the victims of Hurricane Harvey that has left much of southeast Texas flooded and many people displaced from their homes and families. The Lilith Fund for Reproductive Health, according to its website, “assists Texans in exercising their fundamental right to abortion by removing barriers to access.”

Typical of the abortion industry, they are seizing this time of great need and desperation to prey on vulnerable women and men who are even less sure about how they will be able to provide for their families’ needs. ‘Why worry about how you’re going to care for yourself and your child when we can help you make it all go away,’ they whisper deceitfully in their ears. It’s their “bread and butter” play.

Insidiously, the Lilith Fund also states that “Our vision is a Texas where all people have the means and opportunity to plan their futures and families with dignity, respect and community support.”

What they don’t explicitly state is that their help in planning for your future and family only includes planning a future in which the family you would otherwise have does not exist. They don’t plainly admit that the extent of the “dignity” to which they refer is access to a largely unregulated abortion clinic, which after the Supreme Court’s 2016 Whole Women’s Health decision, is no longer required to comply with many basic health and safety requirements – exposing women to substantial risks.

If this group truly had in mind “respect and community support” for “all people,” then at the very least, they might also try offering financial support for them and their unborn babies prior to and after their child’s birth. The fact that this is not an option offered to the women and men in need exposes the group’s real purpose. Clearly for this group, “community support” can only mean providing the means to destroy and dispose of your unborn child.

It is quite ironic that the pro-life community is often told that it isn’t really “pro-life” because it allegedly doesn't care what happens to the baby after it's born, and yet it is the churches and pro-life Christian organizations are who are rushing in to help during Texas’s time of need. But notice how the abortion industry is never challenged to support a woman who chooses anything other than abortion. Yet even in times of great crisis, like Hurricane Harvey, it's abundantly clear they won't.

Standing for the Rule of Law

“The demurrer is overruled.”

That’s the critical language from the Henrico County Circuit Court Judge earlier this week rejecting the McAuliffe administration’s attempt to shut down a challenge to its lawless actions before the debate could even begin.

When earlier this year the State Board of Health, at the direction and aide of Gov. McAuliffe and Attorney General Mark Herring, ignored the law in at least 22 ways to peel back reasonable health and safety measures for abortion centers, four Virginians, with the help of The Family Foundation, decided to stand up and say ‘Not on our watch.’

If the inspection reports from Virginia’s abortion centers have shown us anything since they first began in 2012 (pursuant to health and safety standards implemented through regulations in 2011), it’s that abortion facilities desperately need oversight and accountability that, until then, they had completely been without.  

For example, Virginia has abortion center operators like Stephen Brigham, who has had his medical license revoked in at least five other states and was arrested in Maryland in December 2011 and charged with five counts of first-degree murder and five counts of second-degree murder after police discovered 34 late-term aborted babies in a bloody freezer at one of his Maryland facilities. And only because of Virginia’s abortion center health and safety regulations that went into effect a month later in January 2012, one of Brigham’s Virginia abortion centers was shut down for good in April 2016 – and by Governor McAuliffe’s own Health Commissioner, no less.

Many hundreds of recorded inspections violations within the now fourteen-remaining facilities statewide have accounted for more than enough proof to demonstrate that women who enter these facilities are by no means safe. Now just imagine how unsafe those women will be in these facilities now that this administration has used the regulatory process to gut most of the substantive portions of those standards.

Certainly, of all people, a Virginia woman of child-bearing age is among those most affected by those actions and has the right to challenge them if they were undertaken illegally. Surely, that person has “standing” in court to demand that the administration follow the law they are tasked with faithfully executing. Well this week, a judge agreed.  

"Highly Unlikely" They Say

“Gene Editing for ‘Designer Babies’? Highly Unlikely, Scientists Say”

That’s the title from a recent New York Times piece highlighting last month’s successful modification of DNA in a human embryo by scientists for the first time in the United States.  

The scientists were able to “edit” a known disease-causing mutation at life’s earliest stage in order to prevent the disease from manifesting later in the person’s life. With this sort of “germline” editing, a person’s DNA is not only permanently altered to prevent the contracting of a particular disease, but those mutations that cause the diseases would no longer be inherited by successive generations.

This means that we’re talking about the potential for significantly benefiting (or harming) the human race not just today, but in perpetuity. Talk about power and influence. The possibilities are seemingly endless to the imaginative and the motivated.

Of course, it doesn’t take long for inquisitive minds to wonder: If we can harness scientific methods to prevent “bad” traits, couldn’t we use the same methods to enhance “good” or “preferable” traits – like height, intelligence, skin or eye color, etc.? (Hence, the term “Designer Baby”) And couldn’t this create a number of foreseeable problems?

Not to worry, say the “scientists,” because doing those things would be really hard since modifying other traits is more complex. So for that reason – and that reason alone, apparently – permanently altering human embryos for purposes other than eliminating disease-causing genetic mutations is “highly unlikely” to occur.

Gee, that’s reassuring.  

But as the saying goes: “Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” Meanwhile, it’s hard to think of a scenario in which one person possesses more absolute power over another person than when the latter consists of only a few cells under a microscope, created by the former in a lab for the purposes of scientific experimentation. If human nature holds true, we can be certain, then, that no matter how much “good” may come out of this kind of “genetic engineering,” by man’s corruption that good is destined to be far outweighed by its as-of-yet incomprehensible destruction of human life.

Let’s think about this: When was the last time someone said “that’s just too complex” and everyone else simply responded “well, I guess there’s no use even trying then”? That’s just not the America I know. No – we’re the ones who resolve to put a man on the moon (and bring him safely home) within a decade for little more reason than because we don’t want the Russians to get there first! Do you suppose the Russians – who seem to have even less regard for human life than Americans – might be thinking at this very moment how they could harness this science to create a form of genetically-modified super-human for a superior military force, for example? I’d be surprised if they weren’t already working overtime to make it a reality.

If man’s ability to split an atom and harness its power led within a few decades to a nuclear arms race that brought the world to the brink of utter destruction (not that long ago), imagine what might become of man’s ability to split the DNA of a human cell and to harness the power of bending it to our will.  

“Highly unlikely,” my foot. Not only is the experimentation, exploitation, abuse and destruction of innumerable human lives highly likely to occur if we continue any further down this path of embryonic gene editing. It’s a guaranteed certainty.

“Scientists” can predict whatever they want about what humans will do in the future, but as long as they ignore history and human nature, they’ll always get it wrong. And as long as we as a society fail to respect the value and dignity of every human life, we will continue to justify mass carnage upon the human race by dressing it up with words like “abortion,” “death with dignity,” and most recently, “embryonic gene editing.”

Consistency, People!

An essential basis for human society is the triumph of rational thinking. Rational thought, meanwhile, demands consistency and coherency. Even in our increasingly “relativist” society, this is still something that is widely recognized.

Well…except, apparently, on many college campuses. (The historic bastions of knowledge and social progress.)

Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) recently highlighted one of today’s most prevailing points of disconnect in rational thought involving the issue of market participants being forced to provide a service that violates their religious faith. Watch the students at UW-Madison as they are asked a series of questions about this:

The video effectively draws out the inconsistency – indeed, the incoherence – of many of the students’ thinking on the matter. While most of them found it intuitively abhorrent to force a fashion designer to create custom clothing for Melania Trump or to force a Muslim singer to perform at a Christian church’s Easter service, none of the students in the video appeared to want to admit that it would be equally wrong to force a Christian photographer to photograph a same-sex wedding when doing so clearly violated his religious convictions.

When in actuality, the only substantive difference between these examples is that the latter scenario doesn’t fit neatly within the prevailing liberal philosophy in which certain ideas are affirmed at all costs. In that case, throw rationality to the wind. Majority rules. Might equals right.  

To be fair, maybe we should cut these students some slack. After all, as demonstrated by their blushing hesitations, their not-yet fully “zombie-fied” brains are clearly trying to overcome the incoherence of an ideological bent that is no doubt being spoon-fed to them by most of their professors on a daily basis. Their pause, frankly, gives me hope. It confirms that even the most tenacious indoctrinations cannot withstand the mind with even the slightest regard for rational thinking when that mind is presented with the opportunity to think.     

"Hate" Is Not The Problem

You’re a “hate group.” They’re a “hate group.” Your mom’s a “hate group.” If you disagree with me, you’re a “hate group.”

That is essentially what I’m hearing more and more these days coming from organizations on the ideological Left, and it has reached a tipping point of ridiculousness. Throwing around labels like this is intellectually lazy. It’s inflammatory. It’s defamatory. Frankly, it’s juvenile – something a school yard bully could get away with saying during recess that could never fly in a real classroom discussion.

It also has the effect of undermining the credibility of those touting these claims. (Much in the same way that reflexively hurling the terms “racist” and “bigot” or “[fill-in-the-blank]-PHOBE” are sadly becoming code words for “I’m not respectful or intelligent enough to engage you in a meaningful dialogue about complex issues.”)

Along with other leftist groups, the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) has for years been building upon its list of organizations in the United States it deems “hate groups” – a list used as authoritative by the Obama administration in order to target those groups.  More recently, the “mainstream” media has been using SPLC’s list to label groups it finds distasteful.  Some of the groups being added are Christian or pro-American groups who hold to common-sense traditional values like natural marriage, freedom, national sovereignty, and the rule of law. (In other words, all those things which enable a prosperous society.)

In the past week, SPLC dubbed Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) a “hate group,” apparently because the sitting Attorney General of the United States addressed a group of ADF attorneys at a closed forum wherein he had the audacity to say, among other similarly-themed things, "that every American has a right to believe, worship, and exercise their faith in the public square." Why…that must be code language for “HATE!” Darn it. Can’t get anything past that SPLC.

Considering some of the notables that have made SPLC’s list (Alliance Defending Freedom, American Family Association, and Family Research Council, to name a few) who work hard to protect life, preserve religious liberty, and promote freedom and domestic tranquility through the rule of law, I’m frankly surprised The Family Foundation of Virginia has yet to make their list. (Maybe even a little disappointed.) 

As we have also seen, labeling groups with which you disagree “hate groups” is also an invitation to violence.  A few years ago, a man entered FRC’s headquarters in Washington, DC intent on killing everyone there and had in his possession SPLC’s list that included FRC as a “hate group.”

The absurdity of it all speaks for itself. Yet few seem to be challenging the “hate group” label at a more fundamental level. The reason I know this is because it is generally true that deeming someone a “hate group” or “hater” is universally received as a kind of social stigmatism with which no one wants to be branded. It’s akin to publicly designating someone a leper, but with an intended effect more like that of designating someone a “terrorist organization.” That’s because it’s really about directing the overall narrative and defining your opponents rather than allowing them to speak for themselves. In that sense, it’s Political Mass Communication 101.

But getting beyond that, we must ask the question: What does SPLC mean by “hate”? And furthermore, is “hate” in itself always bad, as they seem to imply?  In actuality, when you take all of three seconds to think about it, you realize that everyone hates some things, while other things, they love.

In other words, while it is undoubtedly true that the groups mentioned “hate” certain ideas and actions they believe are harmful and destructive to individuals and society (clearly SPLC feels similarly about certain ideas), it doesn’t follow that they therefore “hate” the people associated with those ideas and actions.  In fact, I bet if SPLC was to really learn about many of these groups, they would find that it is not primarily their “hatred” for particular ideas and actions that motivates them, but rather it is their love of certain truths and for the people who tend to flourish when those truths are embraced.

The relevant question, then, is not whether or not someone “hates,” but rather: Who or what does a person or organization hate? And correspondingly, who or what do they love? Ultimately, it isn’t “hate” that is the problem. If anything, the problem with “hate” lies in the object of our hate vs. the object of our love, whether we have rightly categorized those objects, and whether our energies towards them are being channeled in an appropriate and constructive way.

The goal should be to love those things that are worth loving (like people, and goodness, and truth), and also to hate those things worth hating (like evil, and destruction, and chaos) – even if it means that someone else may be prone to overlook our love, and overemphasize our hate, and unfairly stick us with the dubious label as a member of a “hate group.”

Forgotten How To Blush

Last week, the school board in Prince William County voted 5-3 to let boys and men use girls’ intimate settings like locker rooms, bathrooms, and showers in schools – and even to be paired with females in overnight lodging situations. All this over the objections of thousands of Prince William County parents and students throughout the past year who pleaded earnestly with them from every logical, emotional and practical vantage point imaginable. And all of this without so much as a single substantiated complaint on the basis of “sexual orientation” or “gender identity” in the school district’s history. New progressivism and secular humanist “moral” grandstanding seems to be their only true concern.

In the end, the five school board members’ complete dismissal of concerns about personal safety, privacy and dignity – as demonstrated by their blanket forbearance to even address them in their remarks – was the equivalent of their saying “Too bad, you better just get used to undressing, showering, and sleeping next to your opposite-sex peers.”  

Such a shameless and callous disregard for basic human dignity and decency – especially among children as young as 5 years old to teenagers – reminded me of a particular Scripture verse which really says it all:

Jeremiah 6:15 – “Are they ashamed of their detestable conduct? No, they have no shame at all; they do not even know how to blush. So they will fall among the fallen; they will be brought down when I punish them," says the LORD.”

They know no shame. They've forgotten how to blush.

But worse yet, it seems they've forgotten what it means to blush, and that other people still do so. They’ve forgotten that children in particular are highly vulnerable and are not yet prepared to face every kind of sexual circumstance which the board’s policy now potentially opens them up to. They’ve forgotten what an awkward and emotional time middle school and high school can especially be for most kids, who already have enough to worry about that doesn’t include intermixing of the sexes in intimate settings like locker rooms and bathrooms. They’ve forgotten the propensity of school-aged self-interested children to take advantage of what they perceive as “loop holes” in a rule, often at the expense of others.

Or maybe they haven’t forgotten, and instead they just don’t care. But that seems frankly too unthinkable. Then again, so did this policy only a year or two ago.

Perhaps we will see evidence of the second part of that Scripture verse in the near future. There is already a serious campaign underway to oust the school board chairman (the chief architect of this policy). Meanwhile, all eight seats are up for reelection this year. Maybe Prince William residents will say “Enough is enough. Stop making my kids the objects of your radical social experiments.”

For the sake of the many who have not forgotten how to blush, let’s hope so.

The End of Mothers and Fathers

Men can’t be mothers. Women can’t be fathers. The fact of it is so self-evident, that it seems wholly unnecessary to state. And yet, even as I write this, I’m struck by the inescapable impression that many among us now not only disagree with this proposition, but actually believe it to be “immoral” to maintain.

Demonstrating just how widely this new viewpoint is being embraced, just a few weeks ago, Dove, a household name in skincare products (also my former soap bar provider), produced this ad about mothers, wherein it features a couple – a male and a female – and their new baby. In the ad, the man (with long hair and a tank top, but otherwise clearly a man) explains how both he and the woman are the child’s biological parents but that both of them “are the moms.” The camera focuses in on him cradling his baby suggestive of a typical new mother, and then later films him saying “there’s no one right way to do it all.” Amazingly, Dove picked the hashtag “#RealMoms” for its agenda-driven campaign.

The problem is that there’s nothing “real” at all about this man being his child’s “mother.” The moment this man contributed his half of the child’s DNA, he indisputably became the child’s father. Meanwhile, that child – like all children – critically needs him to live up to his fatherhood role. Yet Dove seems to be doing its best to legitimize and normalize a destructive falsehood – one that will have devastating consequences for that man, his family, his child, and for society at large. Sadly, Dove is not alone. It is but one of many examples in this recent push towards mass delusion.    

Unfortunately, throwing science and reason to the wind has not been limited to select private entities or even to a rapidly changing culture. This pervasive disavowal of fundamental truths is permeating all levels and every branch of civil government.

Consider Knox County, TN, whose courts for the first time last week granted a woman all the legal rights of a “husband” in her same-sex “divorce” proceedings. Despite Tennessee’s clear statutory language of a “husband” and a “wife”, the judge determined that because of the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2015 Obergefell opinion eviscerating the definition of civil marriage, the “law” required him to designate the woman as a “husband”, without regard to the fact that only males can be husbands.

But it’s even worse than that. Because the woman was granted all the legal rights of a “husband,” she was also legally recognized as the “father” of the child that her partner birthed through artificial insemination. In the “law” it seems, women really can be fathers after all. Or, at least in the imaginary world we’ve created for ourselves in post-Obergefell America. 

The problem is that when both the culture and the law nullify all meaningful distinctions between moms and dads to make them essentially interchangeable, then any and all significance of moms and dads evaporates along with them. Consequently in such a world, moms and dads no longer matter. And suddenly what we once celebrated as being intrinsically unique and worthy of being set apart, cherished, and encouraged is now no more special than any other person or thing. And since a mom and a dad are no longer considered a necessary and complementary part of a whole, there is no reason to be concerned about the absence of one or both in the life of a child.

Yet the fact remains, no matter what anyone says and no matter how fervently the culture strives to exchange the real world for a pretend world of its own making, kids will always need a mom and a dad. Many decades of social science leave no doubt about it. And even when that isn’t possible for every child, it’s still true that every child has the best opportunity to flourish when they have both a mom and a dad who play a central and distinct role in their lives. And not only that, but women will continue to be best suited for the nurturing role that only mothers can uniquely fulfill in their child’s life. And likewise, men will continue to be best suited for the corrective and affirming role that only a father can uniquely play in the life of his child.   

Thus, despite this new movement’s relentless pursuit to shatter these notions, it can never actually succeed in doing so. That doesn’t mean, however, that it won’t have the effect of shattering a whole lot of lives in the process of trying. We have a responsibility to help ensure that doesn’t happen, because moms and dads are treasures of incomparable worth, and nothing and no one could ever take their place in the life of a child.  

If ever we took that for granted, let this be our wake-up call. 

No Conversion Allowed

There’s a growing movement afoot which seeks to legally ban licensed counselors from helping minors overcome same-sex sexual attractions or to reconcile struggles in accepting their own gender. In Virginia, we’ve staved off bills recently that would do just that (2016 -HB 427, SB 262, SB 267). These efforts gained more traction last week when a group of 68 Congressmen (all Democrats) introduced what they’ve titled the “Therapeutic Fraud Prevention Act”, which would make it illegal – potentially even criminal – for “any person” to assist a minor in changing their “sexual orientation” or “gender identity.”  Not surprisingly, however, such persons remain free to “provide assistance to an individual undergoing a gender transition” or to “provide acceptance, support, and understanding of a client or facilitate a client's coping, social support, and identity exploration and development.”

So let me get this straight: At the same time the new Left insists that adolescents as young as five years old be unconditionally supported in “changing” their birth gender and in “exploring” the outer reaches of their sexual curiosities, they are actively demanding that those same kids be legally barred from receiving professional counseling to overcome certain sexual thoughts and feelings they may develop along the way, even when those feelings are unwanted or unhealthy?

Talk about a “bait-and-switch.” Or better yet, more like the sociological equivalent of a Chinese finger trap, where one is free to enter but not to leave.

That’s right, kids. You have an absolute right to trust your feelings when they contradict biology, social science, and traditional morality, and we’ve even got an endless supply of adult counselors lined up to affirm you in them. But if you so much as think about changing your mind, then you’re out of luck – since, after all, we care so much about your “health” and “safety.” Oh, and by the way, anyone who tries to help you may be a fraudulent criminal.

So much for “self-determination” of the patient, the cardinal rule of the counselor-patient relationship.

There are, of course, a number of obvious problems with this concept (too many to list here). Chief among them is that most Americans identify as being a part of a major faith group (e.g. Christian, Jewish, Muslim), and the traditional views of at least the top three involve moral guidelines and truth claims about the nature of male and female and human sexual behaviors. This “law” runs roughshod over these long and deeply held views and makes no exemptions for those who hold them. Both those who counsel and those who seek counsel would now be prohibited by law from incorporating their faith when seeking resolution to a crisis of identity.

The second obvious (and frankly so brazenly preposterous as to defy belief) problem is the blatant double-standard which provides that counselors may only affirm a child when they seek to entertain and indulge certain sexual thoughts, feelings, and inclinations, BUT that counselors may never affirm or aid a child when the child (or his parents) seeks to challenge or correct certain sexual thoughts, feelings, and inclinations – especially and particularly those sexual inclinations which diverge from natural human behavior. In other words, only certain feelings will be sanctioned, and only those ones which tend to be profoundly damaging to children. This places faith-based counselors in a true ethical dilemma, while at the same time depriving a child of the guidance they need during the most critical window of time for healthy emotional realignment, with the effect of further solidifying the child’s misguided feelings about themselves and others.

But maybe worst of all, this policy shamelessly declares, in essence: ‘No, you can’t change – not even if you want to. What you feel is the essence of who you are. Accept it, embrace it, and don’t let anyone help you see a better way for your life – especially those people who may actually know what they’re talking about. And by the way, not only are you incapable of – and now prohibited from – changing, but there’s not a thing wrong with you. You’re perfect just the way you are. And since perfect people don’t need fixing, any effort to help you do so is futile and actually harmful to you.’ (Note the very first line of the bill: “Congress makes the following findings: (1) Being lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or gender nonconforming is not a disorder, disease, illness, deficiency, or shortcoming.”)

But for people of faith, and particularly Christians, this view goes against everything they believe about the human condition. (i.e. That every person is imperfect and broken; that they are unable to fix themselves on their own; that by the power of God through the message of truth and love, a person can be transformed into someone new; that God will help them overcome temptations and even change their desires; that God’s design for their sexuality is far better for them than any other way, and that all others will lead to disappointment, dissatisfaction and ultimately destruction.) Such an edict, then, is wholly incompatible with the religious freedom of most Americans.   

Ultimately, to tell a person that they cannot change and that there is no one who can help them do so is to tell them that there is no hope.

But in fact, there is hope. People can and have changed. And with the aid of professional counseling, countless many youth have learned to cope with struggles which plagued them, and they’ve gone on to flourish in their lives. And why would it not be so in the area of their sexuality or gender? Even the American Psychiatric Association and the American Psychological Association acknowledge, for example, that as many as 98% of gender-confused boys and as many as 88% of gender-confused girls eventually accept their chromosomal sex by adolescence or adulthood if allowed to do so.

The real harm to children in these situations is in preventing them from getting the help they need in their time of conflict. And because that’s precisely what these measures would do, and because we know that there is always hope for people who want to change, we owe it to our children to do everything in our power to ensure these policies' defeat in every place they may be found.

Suing Terry McAuliffe

No matter what you think about abortion centers or the standards of health and safety that govern them, there is one thing on which we should all agree: The law matters.

It would seem to be a matter of bi-partisan concern, then, when over the course of more than three years, the Virginia Department of Health, at the prompting and with the aid of the Governor and Attorney General, engaged in actions which violated numerous provisions of the Administrative Process Act, various other sections of the Virginia Code, and Gov. McAuliffe’s own Executive Order clarifying the rules of the regulatory process. In doing so, the Department impermissibly expanded its amending of six regulatory sections to a total of twenty-one sections, and the public was effectively shut out of the process. Their goal: to roll back as many of the health and safety standards for abortion centers as possible in order to shield the abortion industry at all costs. (With over 1,400 individual violations cited in VA’s abortion centers since 2012, is it any wonder?)

The Family Foundation and others fought the Department every step of the way. We warned them that their actions could lead to costly litigation. Those warnings fell on deaf ears. Eventually, political might won out, as the watered-down standards were rammed through. The administration’s actions appear to be unprecedented in the extent of their lawlessness. Sadly, over the past four years, such actions have come to be expected of this administration when it comes to providing cover and resources for abortionists like Planned Parenthood.

Yet in a society where the rule of law has the final word, political might cannot make “right.” The rule of law must reign supreme. Not even the king himself is above the authority of the law. (See The Magna Carta) The Family Foundation still believes this, and that’s why we’re suing Governor McAuliffe’s Department, Board, and Commissioner of Health.    

Some notable pro-abortion activists have suggested that this suit is simply a “last-ditch attempt” to maintain the previous health and safety standards. Well, yes, that’s what lawsuits typically are – a party’s last resort in vindicating the rights to which they are legally entitled. Having exhausted all other political and administrative remedies, we are now left with one of only two options: Lie down and watch the law be trampled, and with it, the lives and health of vulnerable women and babies, OR appeal to the third branch of government, the courts, to ensure the law is upheld as we continue to fight for women and babies.

We’ve chosen the latter.     

The rule of law and its impartial application to every person – big and small, powerful or weak – is what holds us together as a society and fosters peace and stability more than anything else. It is indispensable to freedom, and it is our principal safeguard against tyranny. In any contest, our side may not always win, but we are able to accept temporary defeats when we know that all sides played by the same rules agreed to from the start. But when one side ignores the rules and cheats in order to win, we expect – even demand – their “gains” to be reversed. It can be no different with Terry McAuliffe’s Department of Health in its illegal reversal of many of the critical health and safety regulations for abortion centers in the state.

Governor McAuliffe, you leave us no choice. We’ll see you in court.