Why We Need More “Thoughts and Prayers”Jul. 03, 2019
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"Jun. 21, 2019
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.
Restating The ObviousMay. 15, 2019
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.
IRS Deems Anti-God Satanists a "Church"May. 14, 2019
If the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) was hoping to improve its image after the recent controversy that involved delaying the tax-exempt status to certain qualified conservative groups, it certainly didn’t help its cause by giving The Satanic Temple (TST) tax exempt status under the category of “church” last month.
One would think that a government agency in charge of collecting taxes form hardworking citizens – and is not exactly a favorite of most Americans – would steer away from avoidable controversy or at least exercise more caution in its decision-making. Yet, last month the IRS issued a ruling letter that grants 501c3 tax exempt status to TST located in Salem, Massachusetts, historically recognized for the famed “Salem Witch Trials” that took place there. Now TST will be able to receive tax-deductible donations in the same way that churches and other charitable organizations do.
In a day and age when businesses - and even some government agencies - allow people to choose from a multitude of gender options, the IRS decided in this case to ignore the alternative tax-exempt categories and treat TST as a church.
Up until the tax-exemption was issued, TST was actually categorized as a “religious organization.” Unlike a bona fide church, a religious organization doesn’t necessarily have an established place of worship or the characteristics of a traditional church like a formal religious doctrine or regular religious services and education programs. It may have as one of its principle purposes to advance religion, but that alone does not automatically qualify it as a church.
Churches have been, and should continue to be, treated as a special protected status in significant part because they have for centuries proven to make contributions to our communities through their moral teachings and charitable actions, which go far beyond what any government is capable of offering.
However, by awarding federal tax-exempt status to TST by designating it as a “church” like any other, the federal government gives credence and a greater societal platform to a group of rebel-rousers who are decidedly “nontheistic” with no regard for traditional religion, and who actively engage in political activism for the primary purpose of disrupting American piety and its social mores. That’s the complete opposite of what churches have historically existed to accomplish.
Once again, another unaccountable administrative agency goes rouge in its decision-making.
All of this underscores the necessity for citizens to keep a watchful eye on the actions of federal and state government agencies. It’s why The Family Foundation is committed to following Virginia’s administrative rulemaking process and publicly commenting on regulatory actions that will restrict religious liberty, take away parental rights, or diminish the role of churches in our Commonwealth.
If left unchecked, administrative agencies will continue to make poor decisions - like the IRS did - that jeopardize the effectiveness of churches and threaten religious liberty.
They Taught Kindergarteners What?Mar. 27, 2019
Have you heard about the recent upheaval in response to Arlington County Schools’ efforts to indoctrinate Kindergarteners with radical gender theories without parents’ consent? We first became aware of the situation when The Washington Post reported on it earlier this month. (Watch our video about it on our Facebook page, and please "Like" and "Follow" our page.)
According to the Post, “Students throughout the country were expected to participate in the National Education Association’s annual Read Across America Day. It was the first time the union partnered with the Human Rights Campaign, an advocacy group for LGBT civil rights.”
As part of this ‘reading day’ in partnership with the leading national LGBTQ advocacy group, Ashlawn Elementary brought in a prominent LGBTQ advocate and a self-described “transgender woman” to read a book called “I Am Jazz” to 5-year olds. “I have a girl brain but a boy body. This is called transgender. I was born this way,” the advocate read to the students from the book. Here's an excerpt from the Post’s article that should give you chills:
After her reading, McBride told the children, “I’m like Jazz. When I was born, the doctors and my parents, they all thought that I was a boy.”
“Why?” asked a girl in a blue sweater and ponytail.
“Because society, people around them told them that was the case,” McBride said. “It took me getting a little bit older to be able to say that in my heart and in my mind, I knew I was really a girl.”
The kids began discussing hair.
“Can some girls have short hair?” McBride asked. “And can some boys have long hair?”
Yes, the youngsters seemed to agree, answering in unison.
“Anyone can be anything,” one girl chimed in. [End of article]
Do you see how effective something like this can be in deceiving young children about their God-given design? Is it any wonder that some reports show a 4,000 percent increase in children identifying as the opposite sex over the past 10 years?
Fox 5 reported on this a day after the Post’s article, stating that: “The school district says parents were notified by a letter ahead of time and were allowed to opt out of they chose. However, to their knowledge, no one did.” That made us wonder what this “letter” actually said. Had parents actually been told about all of this? So we checked it out, first by reaching out to the school principal for a copy (with no success), and then through an official Virginia Freedom of Information Act request. They got the message, and we got the letter.
And what do you know…we noticed that the letter never even hinted at an opportunity for parents to opt their children out of this event. Nor did it say anything about an LGBTQ transgender activist reading to the children and discussing these topics with them. We also confirmed that the principal only sent the letter out in English, despite having a significant number of families in the school whose parents speak another primary language.
After our team unveiled what various news outlets were evidently uninterested in discovering, we let our coalition friends know, and this story quickly spread like wildfire, being featured on places like Townhall, The Federalist, The Daily Wire, Life Site News, and One News Now, as well as various talk and radio shows.
There is much we could say about all this, but we think all of this sufficiently speaks for itself. Be assured that we will continue to closely watch, unveil, and call out these increasingly frequent attempts to indoctrinate children into these destructive ideologies. And if you learn of something happening in your locality, please let us know so that we can address it. We all must be more vigilant than ever.
Your support makes our vigilance possible. Please consider making a donation today to help us continue our work!
Humans Beings Now Legal Property?Feb. 04, 2019
This might actually be the most Anti-Family bill we have ever seen that actually has a shot at passing.
HB 1979 (D-Sullivan) threatens to open up Pandora's Box on critical matters involving Life, Parental Rights, and the most basic ideas of what it means to be a family. Late last week, this bill narrowly passed out of a majority-Republican House subcommittee and then the full House Courts committee, making its way to the floor for a vote TOMORROW.
Click HERE to contact your Delegate and urge them to VOTE NO on HB 1979 tomorrow!
This bill will do ALL of the following:
1) Recognizes in VA law (for the first time since the 1860s) human beings as property to be “owned” by others.
The bill language inserts “owns”, “owned”, or “ownership” 8 times to refer to human embryos. (A new concept and legal term of art.)
2) Significantly expands the commodification of human beings to potentially be exchanged, traded, bought, and sold.
Children are not commodities to be sold or bartered!
3) Creates a new legal presumption for parenthood that is not tied to biology.
This will cause serious long-term damage to our society. Imagine the immeasurable damage to a child when they will now grow up to be told that they never had a father, or that they never had a mother.
4) Encourages the creation of babies without both a mom and a dad because it would now allow any single individual or non-married couple to contract with a surrogate to obtain a baby.
Unmarried homes create more unstable environments for children.
5) Accelerates the diminishing of the nuclear family with a mom, dad, and biologically resulting children.
The breakdown of the family and familial bonds is the single greatest cause of ALL of the other social ills we face since the nuclear family is the bedrock societal institution.
6) Leads to the proliferation of “lab-babies” with no parents, which will inevitably become commercialized to select for certain desired traits.
This will lead further to the commodification of human beings and will lead to countless human lives being created and destroyed in labs.
7) Erases terms like “husband” and “wife”, “his” and “her”, to replace them with gender-neutral language.
This further blurs important distinctions between male and female and removes child-rearing from the sexual/procreational/conjugal union of a man and woman, leading to the commodification of children, and ultimately to government assumption of parental rights.
The Firing of Peter VlamingDec. 13, 2018
Last week I watched as the West Point School Board voted unanimously to fire their French teacher, Peter Vlaming.
After teaching for six and a half years with an unblemished record, Peter Vlaming was fired for one offense.
What was Peter Vlaming’s one offense? What was it that the school’s Principal described as so awful that, in his words, “I can’t imagine a worse way to treat a student.”
What did this beloved and devoted teacher do that was so terrible?
Literally. He didn’t do anything. He was fired not because of something he did, but because of something that he refused to do, or rather, to say.
Peter Vlaming had his livelihood taken from him because he refused to use the male pronouns “he,” “him,” and “his” to describe a female student (who decided to begin identifying as a boy) in his class.
He wasn’t maliciously calling the student cruel names. He wasn’t intentionally “misgendering” the student (that is, using the biologically correct pronouns to describe her). In fact, he had committed to use the student’s chosen name and to not use female pronouns at all when addressing the student so as not to offend. He was simply following his conscience, which could not permit him to use male pronouns to describe a female student.
The reason he was fired for this was because it was interpreted as being a violation of the school’s new non-discrimination policy that protects people from discrimination on the basis of “gender identity.”
When I watched this happen, I assumed that the firing of Peter Vlaming was a sad, but unintended, consequence of the well-intentioned non-discrimination policy.
I was wrong.
The firing of Peter Vlaming wasn’t an unintended consequence. It was the goal.
I realize now that those pushing for the inclusion of “gender identity” in the non-discrimination policies want to rid schools of good teachers like Peter Vlaming all over the Commonwealth of Virginia.
On Tuesday of this week the Stafford County school board was considering a similar policy. One board member, Dr. Sarah Chase, said,
Quite frankly, it’s really not okay with me for a teacher to refuse to call a student by the name they wish to be called and by the pronouns they wish to be called. I actually consider that bullying. I am absolutely opposed to our students being bullied by our teachers.
It is clear that there is absolutely no room for religious conviction or conscience protections in these policies.
If the Stafford County School Board passes this proposed policy at their January 22nd meeting, good teachers like Mr. Vlaming will be fired. Teachers who follow their conscience will be fired. Teachers who don’t use “him” to describe “her” and vice versa will be fired.
This is not the unintended consequence of these new non-discrimination policies. This is the goal.
I am planning to attend the Stafford County Public School meeting on January 22. Please email me right away if your school board is considering including “gender identity” in their nondiscrimination policy. I can be reached at email@example.com.
Child Birth Empowers WomenAug. 16, 2018
Yesterday morning, I shared with a reporter from World Radio how true feminism should embrace all aspects of my femininity and the meaningful ways in which I am different from men, while recognizing equal respect and dignity for both sexes. Equality doesn’t necessitate the denial of our profound differences. Nor should it, lest we miss seeing the great value that our differences can offer one another. Hence, in the context of the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA), which was the subject matter of our interview, the ideal of equality in the workplace must not require “sameness” between men and women to ensure merit-based compensation.
Sadly, it is this fundamental point where progressive feminism, like the brand Chelsea Clinton espouses, gets confused, and in turn actually harms true progress. The path of “sameness” (as in, our culture must nullify all real differences between men and women) supposedly requires abortion on demand because, in order to earn equal pay and make a contribution to Wall Street or K Street, women must enter these zones childless. For Chelsea to attribute the $3 trillion economic boom of women entering the workforce to Roe v. Wade, she clearly believes childlessness is key to success, and that pregnancy, which is a critical difference from men, detracts from our rightful role in the workforce.
In this moment, I struggle not to call her a flat-earther or a science-denier. Just last month, the Boston Globe noted recent studies that have observed neurological changes in women as a result of pregnancy. Science now reveals that women become both more empathetic and better multi-taskers as a result of the surge of hormones that occurs as we bring new life into the world. Coupled with the latest research on the value of emotional intelligence and the complexity of most jobs, it would appear that moms add more to the workforce than if we women pursue the path of sameness or remain childless through abortion.
I would add that even if having kids hasn't actually made me better at being a boss, they are still worth it. Every parent knows that having kids is actually pretty incredible, no matter what the implications are to their economic outlook, and they wouldn't trade their children for all the money in the world. Most people recognize that life is about so much more than the strength of the economy, and that relationships are of greater value than things or achievements.
So I say to Chelsea, come out of the dark ages, embrace your role as a mom, recognize motherhood as a unique advantage and joy for women, and abandon the misguided notions that suggest abortion is the path to prominent and powerful careers that will strengthen our economy. You've got everything reversed, Chelsea. Just imagine how much better off women and our economy would be with those 60 million unique and talented souls that have been brutally taken from us since 1973.
The ERA Does Not Help WomenJul. 25, 2018
Recently, there has been a renewed push by radical feminists to pass the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) to the U.S. Constitution, which removes any legal distinction between men and women through its broad and rigid language. The ERA states: “Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.” It conspicuously lacks any language that provides for reasonable exceptions. Instead, its inflexible language could potentially invalidate any law that recognizes the inherent differences between the sexes.
In the words of ERA supporters themselves, “the ratification of the ERA would at long last end the legal distinctions between men and women in the United States of America.” The fear that any reasonable legal distinction would be removed is not merely a matter of speculation, but has been realized in states that have adopted an ERA. For example, the Supreme Court of Washington cited their state’s ERA in ruling that all schools must open their sports teams to both sexes. Even more significant than the particular details of the case is a statement from one of the justices that illustrates just how sweeping and uncompromising the ERA’s language really is. He states,
“With some qualms I concur in the result reached by the majority. I do so, however, exclusively upon the basis that the result is dictated by the broad and mandatory language of Washington's Equal Rights Amendment. Whether the people in enacting the ERA fully contemplated and appreciated the result here reached, coupled with its prospective variations, may be questionable. Nevertheless, in sweeping language they embedded the principle of the ERA in our constitution, and it is beyond the authority of this court to modify the people's will. So be it.” (emphasis added).
The removal of all legal distinctions between men and women would be devastating for several reasons, but first and foremost because it fails to recognize God’s natural order. Sacred Scripture, reason, science, and common human experience clearly reveal that God, in his infinite wisdom, created mankind male and female. Since God created men and women in His own image and likeness, both possess an intrinsic and equal dignity. At the same time, God also created them with unique yet complementary natures. Instead of denying this eternal truth, the law should take the distinct natures of men and women into account in appropriate circumstances. One evident example is designating separate bathrooms, locker rooms, showers, and changing facilities in public spaces for the sake of privacy, dignity, and safety. Various physical and strength-related distinctions are also appropriate in many circumstances, such as the military or team sports.
When stripped of its shallow soundbites and boiled down to its essence, the ERA is nothing more than radical feminism’s attempt to abolish the unique and God-given dignity of women in exchange for a futile attempt at complete sameness with men. We should see the ERA for what it truly is: an affront to the dignity of every woman. We know that in woman, as in men, God has created a beautifully unique nature that should be celebrated and cherished. While the Left fashions itself as the champion of diversity, the ERA reveals the egalitarian commitment that drives this dangerous vision of equality. In reality, the Left’s worldview rejects the authentic diversity of men and women in favor of a corrupted understanding of equality as sameness. Even at the risk of being called sexists, people of faith and decency must continue to fight for the unique dignity of both men and women before it is lost to the ever devouring throngs of radical feminism.
By James Rossi
James is a 2018 Summer Policy Intern at The Family Foundation and a student at Christendom College.
Terminology and ShameApr. 16, 2018
Someone wrote the word "gay" with their finger on the dusty spoiler of my car.
I want to make it absolutely clear that I am not "gay." Neither am I "homosexual." I am a "same-sex attracted" man.
Why do I make such a big deal about the use of words like “gay,” “homosexual,” and “same-sex attracted?”
For two reasons:
First, I’ve always loved precision. I’m the kind of jerk who will correct people online about their improper word choice and grammar. More than that, I'm the kind of jerk who will correct them in person.
Second, and more importantly, I’m concerned about the use of these words having a much deeper impact on those who use them and on those who hear them.
My friend today said this, and I believe it is right on target. "The conflation of terms is at the root of most deceptions today."
These words describe people who are persistently, exclusively, and deeply attracted to the same-sex. The attractions are not just sexual. They go deeper than that. I can talk to you more about that and what it means another time.
Right now I want to talk about the words that are being used. I said they were words to describe people, but that’s not entirely true for all of them. The words "gay" and "homosexual" are words that are used in a more fundamental way. These words are used to identify people.
This is a conflation of the terms.
Identifying people based on their attractions seems very odd. We identify people based on their citizenship (I’m a Virginian and I’m an American), we identify people based on their religion (I’m a Christian), and we identify people based on their relationships (single, son, nephew, cousin, friend, etc.). I don’t know of any other identity words which are used based on desires (I’m not identified by my affinity for the color green, or based on my attraction to the aesthetic beauty of New Zealand).
So why do we identify people based on their attractions toward different sexes?
Why do we identify people as "straight," "lesbian," "gay," and "bisexual?" Why do people identify themselves this way? Perhaps it could have been said at one time that these were only short-hand ways to describe attractions, but in the culture we live in these words are used as different classifications of humanity.
One of the most distressing things on this topic is the incredibly high rate of suicides by people, especially teens, who identify as lesbian, gay, or bisexual. These young men and women are made in the image and likeness of God, and are despairing to the point that they end their own lives. We must respond and work to save these people.
What is it that is driving people to such despair?
Shame. Shame is a huge concern I have for people with same-sex attraction.
A few weeks ago I had a conversation with a youth pastor. He was eager to get my thoughts about how he ought to respond if a student comes to him admitting that they are "gay." How can he respond in a way that will protect them from shame, he wanted to know. It's a very important question. Contributing to a sense of shame can have devastating impact.
There are different types of shame.
The shame that the youth pastor and I are concerned about is not a shame felt for wrong things that people have done. This shame is far more sinister and goes far deeper. These feelings of shame are based not on any behavior, but on an identity. This is a shame based on belief about who the person is.
Ontology is "the branch of metaphysics dealing with the nature and relations of being." (Webster's Seventh New Collegiate Dictionary 1965). Who are we? What is our nature? The answers to these questions have profound ramifications.
Shame is one of those ramifications. If I identify myself with an ontological category that is based on sexual desires, then shame is a very real possibility. If my ontology is "gay" because I experience same-sex attraction, then my "nature" and my "being" are found in same-sex attraction.
What are the consequences of such an ontological category? Really there are only two outcomes from that starting point:
On the one side, I could reject the idea that homosexuality is wrong. This is a common response today. How could homosexuality be wrong if people exist as this ontological category? If it is part of my being, can it be condemned?
On the other side, I could remain steadfast in my understanding that homosexuality is sin, and thus conclude that I am "sin" myself. This would quickly lead to intense shame and despair.
Neither of those options are valid responses in the Christian worldview. We cannot call something good that God clearly calls evil. So we cannot say that homosexuality is not wrong. On the other hand, we cannot call "sin" something that God clearly calls loved. God loves all people, and he doesn't love sin.
If my ontology is found in same-sex attraction, I don't see a good option for moving forward. What is the answer?
The answer is to change the starting point. I am not "sin." I am not "homosexual." I am not "gay." I am a male image bearer of the Holy God. My ontology is male image bearer of the Holy God. The distortion of original sin does not go to the ontological level. The disordered desires I have are not who I am. I am beloved.
The answer is to hate my sin without hating myself.
If I were that youth pastor, I would respond to the young person who confessed that they are "gay" with a firm, "No you're not. You are a male image bearer of the Holy God. Made and formed in his image, you are fearfully and wonderfully made. The fact that you experience sinful and disordered desires does not change your nature. Temporary afflictions do not define you. God defines you. And he declares that you are worth dying for."
The answer to shame and despair is found in understanding who we are.
*This Blog was originally posted at www.ourseanmaguire.com.
Gender Ideology in 4-H ClubsApr. 05, 2018
When I think about 4-H, I think about the time I spent in that organization decorating cakes and sewing pajama pants. These are not “stereotypically male” activities, but I took blue ribbons in both events at my county fair.
The directors of my 4-H program were also involved in a local homeschool co-op and local church ministries. The other students working on cake decorating skills and trying to sew without injuring ourselves were homeschooled and Christian.
It is not unusual for the entire membership of rural and suburban 4-H chapters to be entirely made up of homeschooled Christian students. The directors also reflect this demographic reality.
Recently the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture published a policy document directing the operation of all 4-H chapters. Within days the document was removed from the website and the governmental body has said that it wasn’t supposed to be publicly shared at this time. Why would the government say anything about the way 4-H chapters are run in the first place?
Because 4-H is actually a government program overseen by the Department of Agriculture.
This recent policy document came out after the Department of Agriculture adopted a nondiscrimination policy that specifically prevents any institution administering their programs from discriminating on the basis of “sex, gender identity (including gender expression), [or] sexual orientation.” 4-H chapters across the country had a brief look at the document before it was taken down from the Department of Agriculture website, but the exact same document exists online at the University of California Cooperative for Santa Barbara County website. That is where one of the four authors, Dr. Katherine E. Soule, works to positively transform the community by improving equality for marginalized groups.
As an effort to promote equality, and to avoid discrimination, the policy document tries to define all of the relevant terms and explain how they are to be applied. I encourage you to read the document.
The application of these definitions is internally inconsistent. At first the policy defines “sex” and “gender identity” as two separate things, but then it goes on to say that “4-H shall not” adopt policies that are based on “differences between transgender or intersex individuals and other individuals of the same sex (i.e. the same gender identity).”
In other words, sex and gender identity are the same thing when an individual declares them to be so. If an individual with a male sex has a female gender identity, then the 4-H chapter must treat that individual as if their sex is female. The gender identity supersedes the sex, and sex is now, in effect, defined by the gender identity.
This doesn’t work with the definition provided in the same document. It takes a huge shift to go from saying that “sex” and “gender identity” are two different things to saying that you must treat people as if they are the “sex (i.e. … gender identity)” they proclaim to be.
This policy doesn’t just require 4-H volunteers and directors to treat people as if they are the sex which matches their stated gender identity; it applies to youth members as well! This means that all 4-H participants will have to call individuals by the pronouns that match their gender identity (not their sex), will have to allow individuals into the sex-specific bathrooms that match their gender identity (not their sex), and must provide sex-specific housing arrangements (such as shared rooms) to individuals based on their gender identity (not their sex).
Nondiscrimination policies were designed to protect people from mistreatment. These policies don’t protect anyone from mistreatment; they impose an ideological position (that gender identity determines sex) on all 4-H participants. All individuals are permitted to join 4-H chapters everywhere and to participate in all events regardless of their gender identity. The only things that this policy addresses are those times when 4-H chapters have sex-specific bathrooms, locker rooms, and make sex-specific housing arrangements. If the authors of this nondiscrimination policy really believe that “sex” and “gender identity” are different things, then sex-specific bathrooms, locker rooms, and housing arrangements would not be a problem. This policy is not about correcting discrimination, it is about treating sex as though it is determined by gender identity.
As you and I continue to face the pressure to treat people in false ways (like using a female gender pronoun to address a male), we may be tempted to overreact. We cannot comply with the demand to tell lies. We must not deny biological reality. However, this does not mean that we should malign or mistreat individuals whose gender identity does not match their sex. We should continue to welcome these individuals to learn cake decorating and sewing skills right alongside us. We simply will not invite people of the opposite sex to use the sex-specific bathrooms, locker rooms, or beds right alongside us.
Love Saves LivesJan. 22, 2018
I’ve attended the March for Life in Washington D.C. every year for the past eight years. Usually the weather is cold, dismal, miserable, and snowy. This year the sun was shining bright, and coats were carried instead of worn.
The warmth of the sun matched the energy of the crowd of hundreds of thousands of people there to declare that “Love Saves Lives.”
The President of the United States also promoted that message in his live stream address to the crowds from the Rose Garden of the White House. “You come from many backgrounds – many places – but you all come for one beautiful cause: to build a society where life is celebrated, protected, and cherished. The March for Life is a movement born out of love,” the President said to the hundreds of thousands of people gathered at the largest annual human rights demonstration of all time.
Despite President Trump’s own failures, it was encouraging to hear the President of the United States promote the mission of love.
That mission of love is being accomplished. Pregnancy Resource Centers outnumber abortion centers more than 4 to 1. Hundreds of abortion workers are quitting. Abortion facilities are closing. Unknown thousands of lives have been saved from abortion by the love of the pro-life movement.
Love really does save lives. And the work of saving lives is being done throughout Virginia and across the country by this massive pro-life movement.
This movement is local. Gathering with hundreds of thousands of other pro-life people each year in Washington D.C. is a huge encouragement, but the work of saving lives through love is done locally, on a daily basis.
Standing outside of an abortion facility on a Saturday morning, I had the chance to love a woman who was planning to go in.
She was scared and felt like she had no other choice. She didn’t know where else to turn, and so had turned to what she thought was her only choice.
I was able to love her by showing her where the local pregnancy resource center was. I was able to love her by giving her the funds she needed for rent that month. I was able to love her by texting her encouragement and support as she continued her pregnancy.
The pregnancy resource center volunteer counselors were able to love her, too. They were there to love her by walking alongside of her throughout the tough process of deciding to keep her baby. They were there to love her as she gave birth. They are still there to love her by answering any parenting questions that she has now.
Love requires sacrifice, and the volunteers across this country are making sacrifices to love their neighbors. Their love is saving lives.
You're in the wrong place.Jan. 09, 2018
Yesterday morning I attended a press conference hosted by the Women’s Equality Coalition. They promoted their legislative agenda – which almost exactly contradicts the legislative agenda of The Family Foundation.
The Women’s Equality Coalition promotes abortion on demand, government funding for all contraceptive methods (including those that cause early abortions), and a host of social justice issues that would have serious consequences for families and religious liberty if they were adopted.
Sitting in the press conference that morning, I was most impacted by the personal testimony that one woman shared.
In her brief comments, she described her financial difficulties in detail. She has to work two jobs without time off. “I can’t take a day off if I’m sick, or to care for a loved one when they become sick,” she said emotionally. “I can’t take vacations like everybody else,” she said, “and that’s not fair.” Her life circumstances are undeniably hard.
No one can deny that women (and men) face difficult times here in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Times are hard. Money is tight. Vacations have to be put on hold – perhaps never to be taken at all.
This is not the responsibility of the civil government. It was difficult for me to sit there quietly as these women called upon the government to take care of them. “The time is long overdue for Virginia to take these common-sense steps,” the President of Virginia NARAL Pro-Choice declared.
“You’re in the wrong place,” I wanted to tell these women, “the Government cannot take care of you.” My urge was to confront the entitlement mentality head on. “You need the support of your family, your church, and your neighbors!” I wanted to say.
Confronting such a mentality must be done with gentleness. The Bible says that “a gentle answer turns away wrath,” and teaches us to answer “with gentleness and respect” so that anyone who slanders us will be put to shame. (Proverbs 15:1; 1 Peter 3:15-16)
Instead of confronting this woman about the poor public policy she is endorsing, I thanked her for sharing her story. Sharing her story was a brave thing to do.
Then I prayed for her. I prayed that God would hear her in her need, and help her. (The same way he heard Hagar and helped her.) (Genesis 21)
And now I will advocate for public policy that will promote the family, religious freedom, and the community. Instead of promoting a strong government with the power to take care of us, we must have strong families and neighborhoods that can take care of us.
The Family Foundation is working to ensure that strong families, churches, and neighborhoods will be able to help women just like the one who shared her story yesterday.
Consistency, People!Aug. 04, 2017
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.
Defining Our Own RealityJan. 17, 2017
The entire "transgender" movement rests on the proposition that a person can define his or her (or "ze") own reality, and that society should recognize and yield to that conception of reality at all times in all places. It appears to be yet another unwieldy extension of the Supreme Court's infamous declaration in Planned Parenthood v. Casey (upholding Roe v. Wade) that "At the heart of liberty is the right to define one's own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life."
Fine then, if those are the rules, two (or more) can play this game.
You can be free to define your reality by feelings, emotions, and personal experiences, as long as I am free to define my reality with biological facts, logical reasoning, and a belief in objective truth, both physical and spiritual.
For the sake of this experiment, I'll concede that your "gender" is something altogether different than your sex, and that you should be entitled to be treated as your preferred gender in every way - in bathrooms, showers, restrooms, the use of preferred pronouns, etc.. I guess if "perception is reality", then self-perception must be the ultimate reality.
Alright, now it's my turn. You have to accept that there are only two sexes - male and female - as evidenced most obviously through biological and anatomical differences, that "gender" is simply another word for biological sex, that humans were created by God as either male or female, that one's sex is immutable, and that in recognizing the profoundly unique differences between the sexes, society should honor their privacy and dignity with separate locker rooms, showers and restrooms. After all, in this game, I have an equally valid right to others' respect and official recognition of my reality.
Sounds fair enough, right?
Oh wait...except for the fact that it doesn't work at all. (Yes, I know that we BOTH innately recognize the objective "law of non-contraction" here.) That's because the realities we've "created" are in direct conflict with one another. Together they present an irreconcilable contradiction such that, no matter how hard we try, there can be no peaceful coexistence. One conception of reality will eventually succumb to the other - you can bet your next group therapy session on it.
I wish this weren't so. I really do. Wouldn't it be nice if we could "all just get along" in a world in which we each define what's real to us and then expect everyone else to live by the rules we create? Sounds pleasantly warm and fuzzy to me. Yet we all know such a place does not exist, nor could it ever. In case you had forgotten, this is precisely why we fight so fiercely over laws and public policies. We know that only one reality can prevail and that we'll have to conform our behavior to it.
The question we must answer then is: Whose reality will prevail? Will we decide that reality is defined by some person's feelings, emotions, or experiences? Will we decide to define reality by what we can see, touch, and perceive through our faculties of logic, reason, and common sense? Will it be some combination of these or some other standard altogether?
I think I know which conception of reality should prevail. But one thing I know for certain: this business of defining one's own personal reality is as nonsensical as it is untenable. We don't get to define reality, but we nevertheless have choices. We can either acknowledge its existence and align our behavior accordingly, or we can ignore it or pretend it doesn't exist until invariably it hits us like a ton of bricks.
A Message To School BoardsSep. 23, 2016
I showed up on Wednesday night for Prince William County’s School Board meeting where it planned to vote on a proposed policy that would add “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” to the list of protected classes in the school system’s nondiscrimination policy. After more than three hours of testimony and not even halfway through the speakers list, I realized that I would not be able to stay for the whole meeting or give my prepared remarks to the Board. Thankfully, that wasn’t necessary, as well over 100 parents and students signed up to speak against this terrible idea. Sometime past midnight early on Thursday morning, the Board voted to table all discussion on the policy until next summer. Had I gotten the chance to speak, here’s what I would have said to the School Board:
Mr. Chairman, Members of the Board,
By now you have all heard how this policy change is dangerous, unnecessary, illegal, and fraught with ambiguities and unintended consequences. The Family Foundation, in conjunction with Alliance Defending Freedom, recently sent each of you a joint letter explaining as much.
While recognizing that you already know or reasonably should know these things, I want to pose to you a question of a different nature – a question that is really at the heart of this whole debate.
The question is this: Is there anything that is true at all? Put another way, is there any concept or belief or reality that can be objectively known and firmly relied upon? Is there anything at all that is fixed and unchanging?
Now before you suggest to your constituents that this kind of philosophical question is “above your pay grade” or that it is somehow not a relevant matter of public policy, realize that what is being proposed here tonight directly implicates this fundamental question. Because what you are in effect saying through this policy is that there is no meaningful distinction between male and female, perhaps even that there really is no distinction at all. That despite conclusive biological evidence to the contrary, boys can be girls and girls can be boys whenever, however, and wherever they so choose, and that a person’s station as either male or female makes no difference in the way that we think, live, interact, and relate with one another. And yet we ALL know that is not true.
But your assertions do beg the should-be obvious question: If we are prepared to declare that something so basic and so clear as the biological difference between male and female is no longer so, then upon what basis can we say anything at all is true? If this Board is prepared to suggest by this policy that biology and DNA and centuries of social science no longer count for anything, then please tell us what ground is left for the Board to stand on in making any decisions about the health and well-being of Prince William County students?
Given what we already know about the circumstances surrounding this proposed change – that there have been no reports of any issues for transgender students in the past ten years, that state and federal law prohibit this policy change, that there are ongoing lawsuits at all levels underway on this issue as we speak, that there is widespread opposition to this policy among parents and community members, and most significantly, that many students will be deprived of their privacy, security, and dignity – it is clear that this policy push is primarily about one thing: undermining truth and imposing a new reality consistent with a particular ideology.
But I am here to tell you, make no mistake, there are some things which really are true, and that cannot be changed, no matter how hard this School Board attempts to make it not so. Reality can only be defied for so long before its consequences show up in force. It will be no different with this policy, should you choose to enact it.
No matter what happens, we can be sure that boys will continue to be boys, and girls will continue to be girls. And you will have to deal with all of the very predictable fall-out of your attempt to deny that reality. In the meantime, unless you maintain a policy that reflects the reality that males and females are biologically and emotionally different and should therefore be afforded privacy in vulnerable settings, a lot of kids and a lot of teachers are going to be harmed. And chaos will ensue. Maybe not today. And maybe not tomorrow. But soon, you can count on it.
Truth is a stubborn thing. It will always manifest itself in reality. I urge you to abandon any attempts to defy this incontrovertible truth. The health and well-being of our kids are at stake.
Moral Cowardice Yields Political PalatabilityJul. 28, 2016
Last week, Democratic Party Nominee Hillary Clinton announced the selection of Virginia Senator Tim Kaine as her running mate. Kaine is, by most estimations, a safe choice for Clinton, as he helps her with a swing state while retaining a guise of moderate liberalism. The Senator has often described himself as “personally”, but not politically opposed to abortion. Clever wordplay, which allows him to seem individually moraled yet governmentally removed from an issue on which the American public is split down the middle. It is this brand of cowardice that creates a candidate who is ethically reprehensible and also tolerable for a considerable portion of the public.
The words of anyone who holds this position immediately raise more questions than they answer. Namely, the individual's reason for personal opposition, to the moral proposition that is abortion. Why does Kaine believe that abortion is wrong in the first place? The pro-life movement, which diverts heavily from Kaine’s application of his views, fervently asserts that, from the moment of conception, the human life has value. Regardless of circumstance, age, or development, this principle of inherent worth is one that must be applied to all humans. If selectively distributed, the aforementioned absolute becomes self defeating, and useless. Therefore, Kaine cannot cite this reason as the cause of his “personal” tension with abortion. That would mean his governmental view would need to follow, in order to avoid an obvious philosophical inconsistency.
And Yet, millions of Americans sympathize with the Senator’s sentiment, and toe the line whilst living in obvious contradiction. For the average citizen, intellectual laziness of this order is actually a convenience. They can preach the pro-life message at their church or in their home, and espouse the woman’s “right to choose” if surrounded by liberal colleagues. The cop-out allows for conflict to be avoided, and, even though its side effect is turning the user's moral philosophy into an amorphous blob indistinguishable from self-serving nihilism, many find it preferable to, God forbid, disagreeing with someone.
In the political landscape however, views such as Kaine’s serve another benefit altogether. The reason these ideals, which in reality raise more questions than they answer, retain popularity among American politicians, is because they are intended to do just that: muddy the waters. Regardless of philosophical inconsistency, a skilled politician is able to turn ambiguous morals into lucid pandering, hopping from one side of the fence to another, garnering as many votes as possible. Believing everything and nothing all at once.
As principled citizens, we must demand that politicians take a true stand on consequential issues. As American voters, we must ensure that our leaders views are brimming with clarity and truth. As people of intellect, we must be appalled by those who insult our intelligence by pleading that we look past their disheveled philosophy.
By Cameron Dominy
Cameron Dominy is a 2016 Summer Intern at The Family Foundation of Virginia, and the Governor of the South Carolina Student Legislature.
Irrelevant ChristianityMar. 14, 2016
One sentence I heard recently sums up the very thoughts I’ve had for years in a way I could never quite communicate. At a recent event I heard author and analyst Gabe Lyons say that “Christianity has become so relevant, it’s irrelevant.”
Gabe was explaining the notion that Christianity, or better said its followers, built so many of the institutions that are now essential to our society that people now don’t associate their existence with Christianity. In his book Good Faith, Gabe and his coauthor David Kinnman note that it was in fact “good faith Christians” who built “schools and universities, hospitals, labor unions, public libraries, voting rights for women and ethnic minorities, endowments for the arts and sciences and on and on.” Today, many of these societal goods are largely divorced from their faith heritage and government has stepped in and begun to reshape some of them. Any that still cling to their beliefs are experiencing great pressure to remove the motivation of spiritual belief system that drives them.
Never has this pressure been so transparent and public as in the realm of adoption where secular left forces in Virginia attempted to force faith-based agencies to abandon their faith beliefs on marriage and family to place children in homes with two same-gendered parents. Few in the battle even understood that if these agencies chose to shut down rather than violate their faith, a majority of all adoption services in Virginia would grind to a halt, leaving children on long foster rolls much longer or permanently. Why are so many of these agencies faith-based? Because in James 1:21 followers of the Good Book are told to “care for widows and orphans.” In this particular instance The Family Foundation and Virginia Catholic Conference, with then Governor Bob McDonnell, were able to not only reverse the effort but also codify in law a protection of conscience for these charities.
However, adoption isn’t the only area where faith is still a driver of good, nor is it the only realm of charity work under attack. That’s why this year, we helped pass SB 41 to protect a wide array of faith-based charities and institutions from having secular dogma forced upon them while the general public would still expect the same great services. While one can contribute to society without faith as the motivator, let’s not pretend that the bulk of charity work is not in fact the result of such faith.
As one whose college thesis examined the existence of faith as a driving force in social change by looking at William Wilberforce and his band of brothers called the Clapham Sect, I recognize that but for this group’s faith, slavery could still be alive and well. “Donations to religious causes and groups make up the largest single share of national charitable giving, one-third of all money donated to nonprofit organizations.” (Good Faith, p. 30) It’s still the Southern Baptists or Samaritan’s Purse that come running to provided needed disaster relief. It’s still the faith-based Habitat for Humanity building homes for the homeless and Compassion International educating children in third world countries.
For the same reasons Bernie Sanders’ socialism looks palatable to a younger generation, the progressive left falsely believes it can remove faith from charity and get the same societal goods in the same quantity. But the combination of revisionist history and the entire absence of history in classrooms today can’t change the facts, just the perception.
Christianity may “feel” irrelevant in our society today to non-believers but that’s only because it’s taken for granted, not because the contribution is not significant. Forced secular dogma or loss of tax-exempt status would be crippling to our society. If one thinks homeless Virginians should still be clothed, fed and sheltered, victims of tornados and other natural disasters restored to their former lives and the needs of veterans attended to, whether one is faith-driven or atheistic, one ought to support SB 41.
RTD's Dignity ProblemMar. 09, 2016
The editorial board of the Richmond Times Dispatch long ago replaced intellectual vigor with social media level rhetoric. While they fancy themselves something of progressive libertarians, their editorial Wednesday chastising the relatively routine procedure of not recording votes in subcommittees, particularly on so-called “gay rights” bills, includes a statement revealing their hypocrisy.
In the editorial they argue not elevating one’s sexuality/gender identity to a protected class is akin to “Refusing to accord gay and lesbian citizens equal dignity.” Thereby, it would seem that the “libertarian” editorialists somehow believe that it is within the power and scope of government to accord “dignity.” That idea, of course, is absurd and hardly views government as limited. It is a manifestation of the mind of Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, who created the “dignity” right out of thin air in his effort to circumvent long standing precedent in identifying a “fundamental right” to same-sex marriage.
Dignity, however, cannot and does not come from government – it comes from God. Every human being (regardless of their sexuality) has dignity because they are made in the image of God. Arguing that a group of people don’t have dignity because they aren’t included in a list of “protected classes” created by government implies that government is the god that gives dignity. It also, practically, means that anyone not included in the list lacks dignity. Nonsense.
Of course, if no transcendent God exists, rights and “dignity” must come from somewhere. And for the secular left, it’s pretty clear the source is government. In effect, they’ve simply replaced one God with another. Legal pundit Jonathan Turley put it this way (though completely missing the fact that values don’t find their source in the majority, but in God) after last year’s marriage decision, “Obergefell would be a tragic irony if it succeeded in finally closing the door on morality and speech codes only to introduce an equally ill-defined dignity code. Both involve majoritarian values, enforced by the government, regarding what is acceptable and protectable. Substituting compulsory morality with compulsory liberalism simply shifts the burden of coercive state power from one group to another.”
And the editorialists at the RTD, despite their oft repeated ivory tower religious rhetoric, have according government just such power.
Silver Lining: The SCOTUS Ruling Will Be Good for The ChurchJul. 22, 2015
by Aaron Tsang, TFF Summer InternThe College of William & Mary
The recent Supreme Court ruling on marriage has caused quite a stir in our country, and nowhere is this more obvious than in the church. Reactions have ranged anywhere from exhilarated pandemonium to visceral disapproval. Many in the church have decided to support, or at least recognize same sex marriage. However, there are still many who still assert the biblical view of marriage, one man and one woman. Unfortunately, despite many assurances to the contrary, there is mounting evidence that churches will no longer be able to practice their belief that marriage is a divine covenant between one man and one woman for life without legal ramifications such as the annulment of their tax exempt status.
Many in the church have focused on the detrimental effects this ruling will have on the church, but are we missing something? Jesus provided a response to such circumstances when brought into the presence Pilate, the Roman governor, preceding his crucifixion. Attempting to elicit an answer from Jesus, Pilate said, “Don’t you realize I have power either to free you or to crucify you?” to which Jesus replied, “You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above” (John 19:10-11) NIV. Once again Jesus gets to the heart of the issue. Although we are subject to the governing body, our mandate to follow God is paramount to any other authority if you believe Jesus when we explained that power is given to our authorities from above. It doesn’t end at that though; Jesus’ bold counter to Pilate’s arrogance has another implication for us. Believing that the authority of the government comes from God, we begin to understand that the SCOTUS ruling doesn’t surprise or shock God in any way. This begs the question; does God plan to use the SCOTUS ruling to achieve positive change within the church? Here are a few ways the Supreme Court’s decision has the potential to positively affect the church.
- The church will have to be different from the world. The church used to be a big influence on the culture, but nowadays it seems that culture is what’s influencing the church. We’ve gotten to a point in our society where being part of the church is in fact, convenient. We aren’t required to be any different from anyone else in the world if we don’t want to. The Supreme Court ruling changes things. All of a sudden, being a Christian will require us to possess enough of an understand of the worth of what we are putting our faith in that we are willing to be labeled as different and undergo ostracism by the newly formed majority. When addressing the church, Peter refers to them as, “A chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God” (1 Peter 2:9) NIV. The Bible makes it clear that the church, when living like it was intended to, will have distinct differences from the world. The Supreme Court’s ruling may help the church to do just that.
- The church will gain a renewed spirit of giving. As churches and other organizations that uphold a biblical definition of marriage lose their tax-exempt status, it will challenge the church to give generously, without thinking about what they get out of it. A study has shown that only 10-25% of the church tithes, a rather dismal statistic when considering that God actually commands us to tithe Leviticus 27:30). In order for the church to survive, a greater percentage of the church will have to learn to trust God with their money.
- The church will have to become known for what they’re for, not what they’re against. Often times it would seem that people go only to churches that “speak up against what’s wrong.” However, as the rights and privileges of churches in America get stripped away, it will cease to be one of the driving engines of the church. There is only so much someone is willing to sacrifice in order to oppose something. In contrast, when someone finds something of great value, that person would be willing to give up everything to protect it. Thus it holds for the church; as it becomes harder and harder to live biblically as a Christian, the price will rise too high for the church simply to stand against sin. However, if the church begins to stand FOR Christ, it will offer something so precious that nothing will be able to keep people from desiring it. In addition, it will also find itself standing against sins.
- The church will have to relearn what the Biblical definition of marriage really is. Possibly the most prominent way that the church has shot itself in the foot while attempting to stand for biblical marriage has been church not actually standing for biblical marriage. In Malachi 2:16, God says, “The man who hates and divorces his wife, does violence to the one he should protect. So be on your guard, and do not be unfaithful.” Although there is a fairly significant difference between the church and the world on this issue (one study finds that Protestant Christians are 35% less likely to get a divorce), there has still been much complacency on the matter. With the Supreme Court actually redefining marriage, marriage by the state is on the road to becoming a ceremonial process that simply incorporates some economic or political advantages. As marriage takes a less meaningful role in society, it presents an opportunity to be made increasingly meaningful within the church. When it no longer has weight as a social institution, it stands to regain what it truly is: a biblical covenant between a man and a woman that is not thrown off on a whim.
Whatever the argument, from a biblical perspective the Supreme Court’s ruling will indubitably impact our nation in a negative way. The ruling is both unjust in that it attempts to change God’s design for marriage, but unloving, as it also affirms a lie that will leave empty those who buy into it. As the church, we must abstain from hatred which is at the very least hypocritical. In its place, we should grieve that people around us that we love have bought into lie that will not fulfill them in the way they were designed to be filled. Meanwhile, the church must continue to hold out the gospel, in which doing so also requires that we stand for the truth. And as we the church increasingly comes under attack for our beliefs, we must take to heart the words of the apostle John: “Do not be surprised, my brothers, if the world hates you. We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love our brothers” 1 John 3:13-14 NIV. My hope for us the church rests in our realization that God was not taken aback by these events. He foresaw our current events and those to come and His plan is not a contingency plan, but His original plan still in play; a plan which involves the sanctifying the church, setting it apart so that it illumines the ever-darkening world.