Category archives: Human Sexuality

We Need To Rethink Our Sexual Culture

by Daniel Hart

October 25, 2017

Ezra Klein is on to something.

Klein, the editor of the news and opinion website Vox, which leans decidedly progressive-Left, recently wrote a piece detailing his growing realization about the shocking prevalence of sexual harassment and assault that women (and men) suffer in our culture, which is just now beginning to fully come to light in the public square after the Harvey Weinstein scandal broke earlier this month.

What’s startling about Klein’s piece is the candor he displays. For a progressive, this level of honesty on a social issue is nothing short of a thunderbolt:

There is a pervasiveness to sexual assault in America that defies the word “problem.” When a system creates an outcome this consistently, this predictably, in this many different spaces, you have to at least consider the possibility that the outcome is intended, that the system is working as designed.

Perhaps we need to do more than try to root out the worst abusers. Perhaps we need to rethink our sexual culture too.

Perhaps we need to rethink our sexual culture too.” This is exactly what social conservatives have been shouting from the rooftops for decades. But in the public square, they have been consistently shot down as, at best, hopelessly old-fashioned and out of touch with modern sensibilities, and at worst, trying to control women’s bodies.

How did we get here? Let’s quickly review some indisputable facts of our country’s history. With every passing year since the early 1960’s, our culture has seen a steady progression of permissiveness of sex outside of marriage. What was once considered a societal taboo slowly but surely became more and more accepted. As television, movies, and popular culture crossed one line after another, much of society followed along, creating what is now known as the Sexual Revolution.

What has this revolution wrought in our society? Many things, of course, but with regard to our personal lives, it chiefly brought us widespread acceptance of contraception as a way to have consequence-free sex with whomever we wish, and when that fails, to abort the baby that is conceived. Contraception and abortion are thus upheld as paragons of freedom and autonomy by those who think that the Sexual Revolution finally freed women from the slavery and repression of pregnancy and childbirth. In effect, women are now as “free” as men to sleep around as much as they want without consequences.

But are women now happier as a result? Klein answers this for us:

Last week, the hashtag #MeToo took over social media. Virtually every woman I follow, on every social platform, no matter the industry or walk of life they came from, shared stories of harassment, abuse, and worse. I read searing tales from reporters and techies, chefs and yogis, civil servants and mountain climbers.

This is the cold reality that progressives must face. What if the revolution that created the perceived “freedom” of consequence-free sex for women unwittingly turned those very same women into objects of sexual pleasure for men? If there is no consequence to sex, what’s the big deal about it, anyway? Logically speaking, what is the difference between shaking hands with someone and having sex with them? If sex is merely a social transaction, why are women so instinctually protective of giving themselves away? Most men don’t seem to have that same instinct, so shouldn’t women be the same? Isn’t this about equality between the sexes anyway? If women now see sex as transactional through their celebration of contraception and abortion, why can’t they give it to men as a favor if men who are in positions of power want it in return for a promotion at work?

This is the kind of sexual psychology that has taken root in our culture as a result of following the Sexual Revolution’s line of reasoning to its logical end. As Klein so aptly put it: “When a system creates an outcome this consistently, this predictably, in this many different spaces, you have to at least consider the possibility that the outcome is intended, that the system is working as designed.”

Unfortunately, progressives like Klein still fail to see the connection between unattached sex and a sexually entitled culture. For them, it seems as though something in our culture has suddenly gone terribly awry, as if they have been blindsided by the pervasive reality of sexual sin. For believers, however, there is nothing new to see here: “What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done; there is nothing new under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 1:9). In other words, sexual sin has been occurring since the beginning of time, and it will continue unless people turn from their wicked ways and instead seek God’s ways and His salvation.

The problem for progressives is that they can never appeal to a higher law in order to promote virtuous behavior; they must instead resort to begging and cajoling the culture into behaving in accord with vague, politically correct rules that society has deemed acceptable, and if that doesn’t work, to legislate virtue. “There are efforts to change this culture through both law and regulation,” Klein says. He then rehashes his support for the enactment of a “yes means yes” law that would codify the establishment of verbal consent before any perceived sexual contact takes place between two individuals.

Instead of getting to the root causes of societal problems, which is our only hope of solving anything, Klein predictably defaults to the progressive line of thinking, which is to avoid root causes for fear of offending someone and instead offer bromides about laws and regulations that must be enacted. So let’s avoid that trap. What is at the root of why sexual harassment and assault occur?

It is because some men do not respect the dignity of women, and instead see them as an object of sexual desire that they have a right to use in order to satisfy their own desires. But what if more boys were taught from an early age that the context for the full expression of human sexuality is within the bonds of marriage between one man and one woman, as Christianity and other religions do? If this teaching were to be taught consistently throughout childhood and young adulthood, it would substantially increase the amount of gentlemen in our culture. Gentlemen treat women with respect, the kind of respect that inherently knows how to avoid looking at women with lust (see Matthew 5:27-28), the kind of respect that would never even consider making unseemly sexual comments in their company, much less harassing or assaulting them. This kind of respect can only develop when sexually exploitive media is avoided like the plague, and self-discipline is honed through the example of the saints in Scripture and throughout history.

When boys and young men are instead mostly left to their own devices, they naturally give in to their broken human nature and rebel against our Creator’s plan for human sexuality (see the third chapter of Genesis). The results of this negligence have become an absolute nightmare—a culture filled with boys in men’s bodies and wounded women with tragically low standards, a culture that continues to writhe in the putrid, pervasive muck of vile pornography that clogs the internet, sexually exploitive mainstream TV shows that fill the screens of living rooms every night, and the depressing normalcy of cohabitation, hook-ups, adultery, contraception, STDs, abortion, and yes, sexual harassment and assault.

Progressives like Klein seem to finally be realizing the extent of this nightmare. Do they, and do we, have the courage to embrace our Creator’s plan and fight for sexual purity in our own lives and those of our children, thereby serving as a witness to truth and spreading this truth to a broken culture in desperate need of healing?

In Today’s Media Environment, It’s “News” When the Department of Justice Actually Enforces the Law

by Travis Weber

October 19, 2017

When Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that he was sending an experienced DOJ attorney to prosecute the murder of a transgendered individual in Iowa, while at the same time announcing that the DOJ would properly interpret Title VII’s prohibition on sex discrimination as not including “gender identity” or any other category, progressive activists and some media outlets were confused.

Slate called this “a move that surprised some familiar with his record on LGBTQ rights,” and The New York Times observed, “[i]n taking th[is] step, Mr. Sessions, a staunch conservative, is sending a signal that he has made a priority of fighting violence against transgender people individually, even as he has rolled back legal protections for them collectively.”

Yet the real story here is how media and activists are puzzled by the supposed “contradiction” in these steps—a contradiction which only exists if one is looking at law as an activist does—as a means to an end. All AG Sessions is doing in both of these situations is simply enforcing the laws on the books.

The reason for the confusion in some quarters is that the modern progressive activist, who looks at law as nothing more than a tool to accomplish policy preferences, cannot conceive of the idea of an attorney general and DOJ that would actually fairly and faithfully apply the laws that currently exist—even if such application cuts across the usual social and political dividing lines. They can’t conceive of those in power actually looking at their job objectively and simply enforcing the law, regardless of whether they agree with it as a policy matter. Yet a constitutional conservative, who understands the Constitution as the Framers did, looks at this as the only right approach.

The fact that these two decisions by AG Sessions cut across social and political lines thus causes confusion in the activist’s mind.

Regardless of one’s policy position on transgenderism, federal criminal law does currently consider murders of individuals which the perpetrator allegedly targets because of their perceived or actual gender identity to be a separate criminal offense. Regardless of Jeff Sessions’ personal views on gender identity, he is bound to enforce that law. That’s what he is doing in this case.

Meanwhile, regardless of one’s policy position on transgenderism, federal employment law does currently consider sex discrimination to be prohibited—and only sex discrimination. Unlike the federal criminal law, Title VII does not list “gender identity” as a separate class. Thus AG Sessions will enforce the law as written—prohibiting sex discrimination—and nothing more.

This is in stark contrast to the previous administration’s approach, which cherry-picked which laws to enforce and which laws to ignore based on their political ideology. Under AG Holder, the Obama administration unilaterally decided to include gender identity in sex discrimination protections. Now, all AG Sessions is doing is returning us to the status quo.

This is only remarkable if one views everything—including the law—through an ideological lens out of which one must achieve uniform policy results. The rule of law itself has no value, and makes no sense, to such a person.

But AG Sessions’ actions make perfect sense if law is to be followed, not twisted to serve a purpose. Until and if Congress changes the law, the DOJ will enforce what is currently written. This is a welcome change for all who want to live under the rule of law.

Media Gets Brazil Ruling on Sexual Orientation Therapy All Wrong

by Peter Sprigg

October 4, 2017

The LGBT activist movement has long been notorious for using a variety of untruths and/or distortions to advance their social and political agenda.

In few areas has this been so blatant and shocking as in the current all-out war against the freedom of clients and therapists to pursue sexual orientation change efforts (SOCE).

For example, we are repeatedly told (falsely) that scientific evidence has proven that all SOCE is harmful. Yet even the Left-leaning American Psychological Association—although critical of SOCE—was forced to admit:

Early and recent research studies provide no clear evidence of the prevalence of harmful outcomes among people who have undergone efforts to change their sexual orientation… Thus, we cannot conclude how likely it is that harm will occur from SOCE [emphasis added].

The mainstream media’s complicity (or ignorance) in all this is highlighted by the continuing use of the term “conversion therapy” in reference to a practice whose actual practitioners refer to it as “sexual reorientation therapy,” “sexual orientation change efforts,” or “SOCE;” or the more recent “sexual attraction fluidity exploration in therapy” or “SAFE-T;” or “reparative therapy”—but not “conversion therapy.”

Another claim made by critics of SOCE is that it is premised on the belief that homosexuality is a mental disorder—a belief they claim was discredited by the American Psychological Association’s vote in 1973 to remove homosexuality from its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). However, the 1973 decision was not based on any clear-cut body of scientific evidence proving that homosexuality is normal, natural, and harmless. Instead, as a result of aggressive political activism, the APA simply changed the definition of a “mental disorder” in such a way as to exclude homosexuality, by making it contingent on the presence of “subjective distress.”

While it is probably true that most therapists who assist with sexual orientation change efforts do not consider homosexuality to be a normal and natural variant of human sexuality, it is not necessary to classify it as a “mental disorder” to justify their work. Many people who experience same-sex attractions do experience “subjective distress” about those feelings, and that alone is sufficient to justify allowing therapists to assist in overcoming those attractions, if that is the goal the client chooses.

All this background is necessary to understand why I was skeptical about an Associated Press article published recently under the headline, “Brazil ruling that homosexuality is disease to be appealed.” According to the article, Brazil’s “Judge Waldemar Claudio de Carvalho ruled last week that homosexuality could be considered a disease that could be treated with sexual orientation conversion therapies.” The article suggested that the ruling had the effect of overturning a 1999 resolution by Brazil’s “Federal Council of Psychology” (abbreviated “CFP” in Portuguese) aimed at “prohibiting psychologists from treating homosexuality as a disease.”

An article from the British newspaper The Guardian offered more detail, noting that the case was “brought by Rozangela Justino, an evangelical Christian and psychologist whose licence was revoked in 2016 after she offered ‘conversion therapy.’” However, I was still doubtful that we were getting the whole story on this so-called “ruling that homosexuality is disease,” so I reached out to Julio Severo, a Brazilian pro-family activist and Christian blogger, for more information.

After researching the issue, Severo confirmed my suspicions with an article on his English-language website. Severo offers an English translation of the CFP’s “Resolution 001/1990” which includes the following:

  • [H]omosexuality is not a disease, disturbance or perversion;
  • Psychologists shall not use any action for making homoerotic behaviors or practices pathological, nor shall they use coercion to direct homosexuals to unsolicited treatments.
  • Psychologists shall not offer their opinions, . . in regard to homosexuals as sufferers of psychic disorders.

However, the private practice of sexual reorientation therapy with consenting clients who are distressed about unwanted same-sex attractions does not, in and of itself, violate any of these restrictions. In addition, a Google translation of a Portuguese language news article says explicitly, “The preliminary decision of federal judge Waldemar Cláudio de Carvalho maintains the full text of Resolution 01/99.”

However, Severo does say that the resolution also included a paragraph saying:

  • Psychologists shall not collaborate with events and services proposing treatment and cures of homosexualities.

This appears to be the only part of the CFP resolution that the judge actually modified, by ordering, as Severo translates it,

that the Federal Council of Psychology [must] not interpret [its resolution] to hinder psychologists from promoting studies or giving professional care, in a private setting, regarding … sexual (re)orientation, thereby ensuring to them full scientific freedom about the subject, with no censorship or prior permission from the Federal Council of Psychology.

The translated article quotes the judge as expanding on the importance of “scientific freedom,” saying that a total ban on such therapy would

prohibit the deepening of the scientific studies related to (sexual) orientation, thus affecting the scientific freedom of the country … insofar as it prevents and makes unfeasible the investigation of the most important aspect of psychology [which] is human sexuality.

The translated article also says the judge’s decision “underscores the reserved nature of the service and prohibits advertising and publicity” for sexual reorientation therapy.

Nevertheless, a spokesman for the FCP condemned the decision, taking issue with the idea that the FCP policy interferes with research. According to The Guardian,

We have no power over research,” he said. “The way it was put by the judge gave the impression that we prohibited research which is not true.”

Yet it is hard to understand how anyone could do “research” on sexual reorientation therapy if no one is permitted to engage in such therapy.

In summary, a very modest ruling by a Brazilian judge in defense of freedom for clients, therapists, and researchers has been distorted by the media (especially the Associated Press) into a judicial ruling that homosexuality is “a disease.” The media urgently needs to abandon its caricature of sexual orientation change efforts—and the U.S. needs more judges with the wisdom and courage of Judge de Carvalho.

The Judicial Assault on Public School Privacy Policies

by FRC

October 2, 2017

Activist judges are continuing to rule against the rights of students, parents, and public school districts to determine their own bathroom and locker room privacy policies. In FRC’s latest Facebook Live event, Travis Weber, the director of FRC’s Center for Religious Liberty joins John Rustin, the President and Executive Director of the North Carolina Family Policy Council to discuss this important issue. Here is a summary of some of the key points made in this discussion:

  • The 7th Circuit Court’s recent decision in Kenosha Unified School District v. Whitaker was a loss of autonomy and ability of school districts and parents to set the policies they want for their students, particularly that of boys and girls using private facilities separately.
  • Since children are compelled by law to go to school, parents ought to have the right to help set policies with respect to privacy issues in bathrooms and locker rooms.
  • The Kenosha case is the latest example of why the federal judiciary often gets a bad name. It is a clear example of a judge who is unaccountable to the people imposing their own policy preference in law. The judge in the Kenosha case cited Title IX’s prohibition of sex discrimination as the reason why a student who identifies as transgender should be allowed to use the bathroom and other private facilities of their choice. Until very recently, Title IX has never been viewed as a means of forcing school districts to accommodate these claims.
  • In the Kenosha case, the school district was happy to accommodate the student who identified as transgender by offering them a separate private facility to use. As is often the case, however, this accommodation was viewed as unsatisfactory. Parties and individuals pushing the transgender bathroom agenda are often not trying to be reasonable—they instead demand that their proposed policies be made into law and be fully accepted by all.
  • Reasonable accommodations can be made to protect the privacy of students who identify as transgender without infringing upon the privacy rights of all the other students. The Kenosha school system has over 22,000 students, and yet the 7th Circuit Court inexplicably decided to throw out the privacy interests of 21,999 students on behalf of one student.
  • Cases like this are stark reminders of how important it is to have an administration that will appoint judges who faithfully read the text of the law and the Constitution and adhere to it without injecting their policy preferences.
  • FRC and the North Carolina Family Policy Council along with 19 other family policy organizations signed on to an amicus brief asking the U.S. Supreme Court to take up the Kenosha case in order to bring some sanity back to the bathroom privacy issue by not only allowing parents and school districts to have a say in determining privacy policies, but also to reinforce that biological sex distinctions matter in public educational facilities.
  • Even Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg recognized in 1975 that sex discrimination prohibitions in law did not mean that privacy must be compromised.
  • When courts rule as the 7th Circuit did in the Kenosha case, they are violating the rule of law itself by circumventing Congress, which alone has the people’s voice and the authority to change laws.

View the full video to find out more.

The Sexual Revolution, Sexual Freedom, and Hugh Hefner

by Jourdan Stuart

September 29, 2017

In his life, Hugh Hefner built an empire. Many, including himself, would say this empire was built on helping people explore their sexual freedom. His contribution to society is one that has given people the opportunity to look at sex with a different attitude. During his life, Mr. Hefner made it possible for everyone to have sex at his or her fingertips. However, this man did much more than just revolutionize the sex industry; he contributed to sowing confusion about what it means to be truly free.

In an interview, Mr. Hefner stated, “One of the great ironies in our society is that we celebrate freedom and then limit the parts of life where we should be most free.” In this age of sexual revolution, many Millennials are “exploring” their sexuality and falsely calling this “freedom.” I have to admit that I did not understand what it meant to be truly free until I got married. Yet many people my age would laugh at this idea as being absurd.

Here is the freedom that I have enjoyed. Because I waited for marriage, I do not have to spend my life concerned about whether my partners were healthy, or if they would leave me if I slept with them, or whether my partner would help me if I got pregnant. I do not have to lie awake at night wondering what I did wrong because my last partner left me even though I gave him everything; In marriage, I have been given an opportunity that I wish more people had; I have found a safe environment to explore and grow with someone who is going through life with me. We do not have to live in fear because we have each other and we have God.

God has given us the freedom; in fact, we are “called to be free, but do not use your freedom to indulge in the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love” (Galatians 5:13 NIV). Hugh Hefner promised to give people freedom to explore their sexuality, but all he did was give people an avenue to ruin their marriages and their lives by becoming slaves to their lustful fantasies.

Studies have shown that people who use pornography are less satisfied in marriage, lose interest in sexual intercourse, are more likely to be unfaithful, and can harm families. This not only physically affects marriages, but also leaves lasting devastation in its wake. Mr. Hefner wanted to create an environment for fun and freedom, but all he did was confuse people on what it meant to be truly free.

Jourdan Stuart is an intern at FRC.

The Rights that Students and Parents Have to Challenge Transgender Policies

by FRC

September 11, 2017

In part two of our “Back to School” Facebook Live series, FRC policy experts Sarah Perry and Cathy Ruse discuss the legal status of transgender policies in public schools, what rights students and parents have to fight these ideological policies, and much more. Here is a summary of some key points from this discussion:

  • Despite the fact that there is no federal mandate to enshrine transgender policies in public schools, individual schools and states can (and in some cases are) mandating these controversial policies.
  • This issue goes well beyond bathrooms – 17 different areas within school policy can be affected by the implementation of transgender ideologies, including showers, overnight sleeping accommodations, the forced use of pronouns, etc. In Fairfax County and some other school systems, little girls are being taught that they may grow up to be men, and little boys are being taught that they may grow up to be women.
  • Some public schools are now framing “children’s rights” in terms of students who identify as “transgender” using school as the time where they are free to express their “true selves”; if parents object to their children’s behavior, they are seen as being in the way of their children’s freedom.
  • Can schools force students to call a fellow student by the sex that they identify as (that is opposite from their biological sex)? Our First Amendment right to not be compelled to speak should guard against this, but this could very well be challenged in court in the future.
  • Most states do allow parents to opt their children out of sex-ed classes. However, “gender identity” is increasingly being taught outside of the sex-ed curriculum in “general health” classes where there is no option to opt out. Parents have to fight at the state level and the school board level for the right to opt their children out of any lessons they deem objectionable.
  • Students who are being forced to undress in locker rooms in front of those of the opposite biological sex can ask for accommodations to be able to use a separate facility; this may be the only short-term recourse.
  • In the vast majority of states, parents have the right to review curriculum, lesson plans, and lesson materials. If you can’t opt your child out of the objectionable material, you can at least prepare them for what they will encounter.
  • It is not the gender-confused child, their parents, the teachers, or the school that should be blamed in all of this; they may be under pressure from outside forces such as the state or transgender activists. Compassion is always the appropriate response. It is critical to remember that 80 to 90 percent of gender-confused children will ultimately accept their true biology. By “affirming” a child in the opposite gender, these policies are locking a child into something they will likely normally grow out of.

View the full video to find out more.

Advice for Parents On Challenging Transgender Policies in Public Schools

by FRC

September 6, 2017


Just in time for the new school year, FRC presents its Facebook Live “Back to School” series. In our first video, FRC policy experts Sarah Perry and Peter Sprigg answer questions about transgender policies, gender pronouns, and more. Below are a few recommendations for parents regarding the increasing prevalence of transgender ideologies in school systems across the country.

  • If school board administrators at your child’s school claim that transgender policies must be put in place in public schools so that they will not lose federal funding, they are not being truthful. The Trump administration withdrew the Obama administration’s May 2016 guidance instructing schools to allow transgender students to use the locker rooms and restrooms of their choice.
  • Become a citizen advocate: Find out what precisely is being taught to your child regarding sexuality and what transgender restroom/locker room policies are in place. If you verify that radical transgender ideologies are being taught and/or enforced in your child’s school system, approach the school administration in hierarchical order with your concerns; this will ensure the best chance of success. Start with the classroom teacher; if your concerns are not satisfactorily addressed, move on to the school principal, then to the school superintendent, then to the elective school board.

View the full video to find out more.

For further guidance, be sure to download our brochure “A Parent’s Guide to the Transgender Movement in Education.”

The Battle for Truth and Love

by Marcus Harris

August 30, 2017

If one were to question the moral fortitude of current Christians in America, one might conclude that a generation of Christians would rather be culturally acceptable than identify with the commandments of Jesus.

According to a survey conducted by the American Culture and Faith Institute, conservative pastors are reticent to speak about cultural issues for fear of appearing political and losing congregants. While many Christians around the world are courageously living in the midst of vile persecution for the sake of a faith they consider worth dying for, the American church has become sheepishly acquiescent to the demands for moral equivalency for the lifestyles of those who lack moral clarity. As the church, we have allowed the culture to define truth and love for us, and this has been a great detriment not only to our witness in the world, but to our own families. Whether we realize it or not, we are in a spiritual battle to define and live out the meaning of truth and love.

Research has shown that with every subsequent generation, those who call themselves followers of Jesus continue to convert to the gospel of moral relativism. As a culture, we now value achieving self-fulfillment by any means necessary, even if those means are destructive. Even though a majority of Christians would agree that God is the author of moral truth, many actually believe that truth is relative to one’s experiences and life circumstances.

Look no further than the growing acceptance of radical sexual autonomy among mainline protestant denominations and millennials to see how far we have fallen from the biblical standard of truth and love. Even though the Bible is clear about sin and its consequences, many Christians seem more concerned with appearing “judgmental” and “unloving” rather than calling people out of darkness into light. Ultimately, we need to repent and come back to the essence of what truth and love really entail.

Simply put, Jesus is truth and love. You cannot have one without the other. He is the Lion and the Lamb. We either receive all of Him or none of Him at all. We cannot pick and choose which facets of Jesus’ nature we want to keep to fit our desires. The truth that has been established by God is eternal and will never bend to culture. It is the greatest story of love ever displayed. The truth is that God in his mercy sent Jesus to save us from our sins so that we may be holy and blameless before Him. The truth is that God loved the world so much that He gave His only Son so that all who believe in Him will not perish, but have eternal life (John 3:16).

The fact of the matter is this: it is not very loving of us to give credence to sinful proclivities from which Jesus died to save the world. Those of us who have children know this to be fundamentally true. We would never, in the name of love, allow our children to run out onto a busy highway just because they believed it was their prerogative. The church in America must develop a backbone like the early church possessed, and speak the truth in love and grace. There is a battle being waged, and it is imperative that we let our love for God and His commandments shape how we think and live. As ambassadors of Christ, we have been called to be distinct and to call the world to reconciliation with God. It is only in a reconciled relationship with God that the world will find true freedom and the highest ideal of fulfillment.

Science vs. Science on USDA Nominee’s Views of “LGBT Behavior” and “Choice”

by Peter Sprigg

August 28, 2017

The Left is going after another of President Trump’s nominees to an executive branch post—Samuel H. Clovis, Jr., who has been tapped to serve as Under Secretary of Agriculture for Research, Education, and Economics.

When his nomination was announced last month, the chief focus of the administration’s critics was that Mr. Clovis is “not a scientist,” yet is being nominated to be the Department of Agriculture’s “chief scientist.” He was also attacked for being a “skeptic” on the issue of “climate change” science.

Critics focused on Clovis’ background as a radio talk show host and an unsuccessful political candidate—glossing over the fact that he has both an MBA and a Ph.D. in Public Administration, and had been a professor of economics at two different colleges (thus checking off both the “Education” and “Economics” parts of the job for which he has been nominated).

Recently, however, Mr. Clovis came under further attack for something seemingly unrelated to agriculture—namely, his position on homosexuality. Critics mined his radio commentaries for remarks they considered controversial—such as slippery slope arguments regarding the consequences of redefining “marriage” to include same-sex unions.

However, one critique caught my eye in particular. Writer Gary Legum, in an opinion piece in the Independent Journal Review, said the following (quoting in turn a CNN article about Clovis):

On the other hand, while Clovis might not believe the issue of a biological basis for sexual attraction is settled, people with scientific and medical training are fairly sure about it:

[Quote] Clovis has repeatedly argued that the science on homosexuality is unsettled and that “LGBT behavior” is a choice. The American Psychological Association has said that while there is no scientific consensus on the causes of sexual orientation, “most people experience little or no sense of choice about their sexual orientation.” [End quote]

Let’s first look at the CNN quote. Although presented in such a way as to imply that there is a contradiction between Clovis’ view and the ostensibly “expert” opinion of the APA, there is actually no difference between them. Clovis’ view that “the science on homosexuality is unsettled” and the APA’s view that “there is no scientific consensus on the causes of sexual orientation” are different ways of saying the exact same thing.

In reality, it is Mr. Legum’s declaration that “people with scientific and medical training are fairly sure about” there being “a biological basis for sexual attraction” that is directly contradicted by the APA’s statement that “there is no scientific consensus on the causes of sexual orientation.”

The “choice” issue requires a more careful examination. The APA is quoted as saying that “most people experience little or no sense of choice about their sexual orientation.” This is entirely true—if you use the first definition of “sexual orientation” that is offered in the APA document being quoted: “Sexual orientation refers to an enduring pattern of emotional, romantic and/or sexual attractions [emphasis added] to men, women or both sexes.”

Mr. Clovis, however, did not refer to LGBT “attractions”—he referred quite explicitly to “LGBT behavior.” “Attractions” are internal, subjective, and psychological; “behavior” is external, objective, and physical. They are not the same thing at all.

The APA document does go on, however:

Sexual orientation also refers to a person’s sense of identity based on those attractions, related behaviors and membership in a community of others who share those attractions.

This statement is entirely consistent with an understanding that I have tried to communicate for years, which is that “sexual orientation” is not one thing, but rather is an umbrella term that, depending on the context, can be used in reference to several different things—such as, in the APA’s terminology, “attractions,” “behaviors,” “sense of identity,” and “membership in a community.”

To speak clearly about “sexual orientation,” it is necessary to address each of these elements of it individually, since they are quite different from each other. This is particularly the case if we are discussing the role of “choice” in a person’s “sexual orientation.” “Identity” involves at least some element of choice, especially if we consider one’s public self-identification to be part of it. “Membership in a community” would appear to involve an even greater level of choice.

And one’s sexual behaviors—outside of a context of sexual abuse or exploitation—must be considered almost entirely a matter of “choice.” To say otherwise would be to imply that those with same-sex attractions are in the grip of an irresistible compulsion—which would be far more insulting than to say that they (like all of us) are capable of choosing their sexual behavior.

So when the APA says that “most people experience little or no sense of choice about their sexual orientation,” they are in that context referring to people’s sexual attractions, which indeed are not a “choice.” (Note: To say that same-sex attractions are not a choice, however, is not to say that they are innate. If—as many believe—they result from psychological and developmental forces or experiences in childhood or adolescence, then that would mean they are neither chosen nor inborn.)

I take no position here on Mr. Clovis’ general qualifications to serve in the Department of Agriculture. However, in clearly distinguishing “LGBT behavior” from same-sex attractions, while noting accurately that scientists cannot definitively point to one universal cause of such attractions, Mr. Clovis has actually shown a greater understanding of the science on homosexuality than have his critics.

Human Sexuality and the Goodness of Marriage

by Clara Ramos and Shania Burch

August 10, 2017

The place and value of sex is a complex issue in modern American culture. The view of sex as the intimate union between a man and woman brought together by marriage under God has largely been lost. It has been replaced by an entitled inclination toward convenience and conceding to a desire for the instant gratification of sexual and emotional fulfillment.

Being a part of a culture engulfed in endless choices, including the choice to have sex at any point in life regardless of the type of relationship between the partners, makes it necessary for Christians to bear witness to God’s intention for human sexuality. Using the guidance of the Bible, early Church fathers, and Christian scholars, Christians can promote God’s will for sexual intimacy as the exclusive and supreme physical act of unity between a man and woman who are drawn together under Him in marriage.

The Modern View of Sex

Contemporary Americans place utmost importance in their happiness and freedom of choice. What often defines happiness, according to Dr. Martin E. P. Seligman, is summarized by the acronym PERMA: pleasure, engagement, relationships, meaning, and accomplishments. Many seek their purpose, freedom, and sources of fulfillment in their activities, contribution to their environment, and ability to enjoy such pleasures as food, sex, and material comforts.

From the Christian perspective, true freedom is attained by dedicating one’s life to the glorification of God and living in liberation from sin. Paul the Apostle verifies this by asserting that man should glorify God in body and spirit and flee from sins, such as sexual immorality, in order to uphold God’s sacred gift that is the human body (1 Corinthians 6:18-20). In the modern view, however, individuals tend to perceive their sexuality as a part of their humanness that demands and deserves total autonomy, and, as a result, use it to exercise their freedom of choice and self-expression.

Robert Buffington and his colleagues expand upon the value of sexual freedom in their book, A Global History of Human Sexuality: The Modern Era, by highlighting the way in which the fight for sexual freedom has become a major political issue in contemporary culture. Due to the strongly Western ideal of liberty, sexuality has become yet another aspect of life that can be expressed at the discretion of the individual and supported by advocates within mainstream culture who believe that one’s sexual identity can be self-created.

The Implications of the Modern View of Sex

The values of modern Americans show that what is deemed to be most important is the idea of choice. Choosing to be involved in relationships, to engage in one’s community, and to enjoy pleasure in proper ways are important for human flourishing, but they are often overemphasized. When we concede to the desire for personal happiness in this way, we distance ourselves from God and move closer to a false self-identity that dictates our choices. Aspects of sexual freedom, such as freedom from sex trafficking and gender-based bullying, are certainly important; but placing sexuality at the center of one’s identity and using it without discretion degrades God’s purpose for human sexuality.

In contemporary culture, sex is no longer the act of a man and woman united under God, engaging in sexual unity to raise a godly generation; rather, it is an act of personal choice and freedom where reproduction is often seen as an undesirable consequence.

Christians know that true freedom is not anchored in a sexual identity, but in an identity in Christ (Colossians 3:3). Christians have the opportunity to share with others that God’s intention for human sexuality is an exclusive act of union that follows, rather than precedes, deep, God-centered love. Genesis 1:24 demonstrates that kind of love by stating that “a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh,” making it clear that God first created men and women, then united them in one flesh by the goodness of marriage.

The Goodness of Marriage

Marriage is a profound mystery, one that God has planned from the beginning of time. When God created Adam, He gave him the task to name and rule over all the animals of the field and of the air; yet, God saw that Adam was lonely and had “not found a helper like himself” (Genesis 2:20). The beasts of the land, the birds of the air, and all living creatures brought a sense of joy and delight to him, but were not and could not be a fulfilling match for him.

So God created woman from the rib of Adam and brought her into Adam’s sight. He exclaimed, “This now is bone of my bone, and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called woman” (Genesis 2:23). God blessed this first marriage, saying “increase and multiply,” (Genesis 1:28) for they were to become the models of marriage for humanity as the first parents in complimentary union.

The Trinity and Marriage

Marriage is true, good, and beautiful because it resembles the oneness of the three divine Persons of the Trinity. The perfect bond and oneness of the Blessed Trinity makes them inseparable; this also occurs in the sacrament of matrimony when the marital bond of husband and wife is sealed by God.

Sam Allberry further reflects that “by virtue of their marital union, man and wife are able to arrive at a kind of oneness that can reflect the oneness of God the Trinity.” This oneness is possible by the gifts that proceed from the Trinity and should reflect in marriage: totality, unity, and fidelity. The Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church states:

…the characteristic traits of marriage are: totality, by which the spouse gives themselves to each other mutually in every aspect of their person, physical and spiritual; unity, which makes them “one flesh” (Gen 2:24); indissolubility and fidelity which the definitive mutual giving of self requires; the fruitfulness to which this naturally opens itself.

Marriage also images the Trinity by way of the Holy Spirit, which is the fruit of the Father and the Son’s reciprocal love. In the same way, a child is the fruit of the husband and wife’s love.

These traits seem to have faded away in modern society. The totality of marriage has been degraded to merely pleasure and selfishness. Pornography has objectified women and men by taking the sexual act out of its proper context within marriage, thereby debasing it by taking away its inherent beauty and unity. This perversion of marital fidelity and privacy, which continues to grow with an ever-increasing number of porn websites and a consuming public that justifies its consumption through a relativistic mindset, prevents the world from seeing the goodness and dignity of marriage.

The Purpose of Marriage

God’s oneness, which only He can give, can be seen in the creation of man when God made woman from the rib of Adam, her husband. God did not take a foot or a strand of hair from Adam to create Eve. No: He took a rib to show man the equal dignity of male and female. Matthew Henry expands upon this: “[T]he woman was made of a rib out of the side of Adam; not made out of his head to rule over him, nor out of his feet to be trampled upon by him, but out of his side to be equal with him, under his arm to be protected, and near his heart to be beloved.”

The purpose of marriage is not, as John Chrysostom puts it, for “indecency and laughter,” but “for the sake of begetting offspring and in the fidelity of chastity” (Augustine). Chrysostom understood that the unique beauty of marriage will dissipate in the swamps of infidelity. Thus, marriage is and can only be between one man and one woman. Anything other than this is contrary to God’s plan. Its purpose is unitive and fruitful, and glows in the eyes of God. It is precious and holy, for it has the potential to bring into this world another human being that is capable of knowing God.

The nature of marriage is ordained for “the procreation and education of the offspring, and it is in them that it finds its crowning glory.” Yet, God’s merciful love and compassion not only enriches the fertile womb, but exceeds in bounty to marriages that have gone through the hardships of infertility and miscarriage, thus making marriage not only procreative in nature, but also unitive. God’s love ensures that experiencing these great trials can still bear the fruit of unitive marital love. The Catechism of the Catholic Church plainly states: “Spouses to whom God has not granted children can nevertheless have a conjugal life full of meaning, in both human and Christian terms. Their marriage can radiate a fruitfulness of charity, of hospitality, and of sacrifice.” This shows the infinite goodness and love of God, whose love makes “the human person the authentic image of the Blessed Trinity, [the] image of God.”

Clara Ramos and Shania Burch are students at Regent University.

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