Category archives: Human Sexuality

Framing Christian Thinking About Human Sexuality: Three Theological Considerations

by Rob Schwarzwalder

August 17, 2015

What follows are three points regarding historic Christian teaching about human sexuality. This list is neither comprehensive nor thorough, but instead addresses three of the most commonly-raised issues relating to the Bible and sexual matters.

 

  1.  Of the three components of the Mosaic law, the ceremonial and sacrificial element was symbolic of both the need for holiness and the need of a mediator between God and man, and the civil element applied only to Israel in a specific historic context (although the principles are relevant - e.g., the prohibition against allowing children to play on rooftops so they won’t fall off was animated by trans-cultural need to protect children). The moral element of the Mosaic law articulated in Exodus through Deuteronomy is composed of commandments that are found from Genesis through Revelation. The moral law is applicable to all people at all times.
  2. Using careful exegesis and sound hermeneutical principles, faithful believers can come to different conclusions about eschatological, ecclesiastical, and other non-essential theological matters. But no honest evaluation of Scripture can lead to any conclusion other than that sexual intimacy is reserved for one man and one woman in the covenant of marriage. This teaching is not ambiguous; it is clear.
  3. If the Bible is God’s written Word, its teaching is not malleable and the truths it teaches cannot be tailored to any culture’s preferences. If all Scripture is God-breathed, its authority is final.  Thus, faithful Christians are not to employ fanciful exegetical gymnastic exercises to obtain the result they wish but are called by God to submit to His propositional, clear, and authoritative Word.

To learn more on this topic watch FRC’s lecture featuring Robert Gagnon, as well as our articles ‘Leviticus, Jesus, and Homosexuality’ and ‘The Bible’s Teaching on Marriage and Family.’

Is Homosexuality “Immutable?” Justice Kennedy’s Shaky Bridge to Redefining Marriage

by Peter Sprigg

August 5, 2015

Many conservative commentators have dissected Justice Anthony Kennedy’s majority opinion in the U.S. Supreme Court case of Obergefell v. Hodges. In that case, a slim 5-4 majority declared that the 14th Amendment of the Constitution requires every state to redefine marriage to include same-sex couples. One wonders what the authors of that 150 year-old amendment would have thought of this notion.

Few, however, have noted two passing comments that actually describe the key factual assumption on which the entire decision rests. Justice Kennedy declared—twice—that a homosexual orientation is “immutable.”

On p. 4 of the opinion, Kennedy writes,

 … [I]t is the enduring importance of marriage that underlies the petitioners’ contentions… . And their immutable nature dictates that same-sex marriage is their only real path to this profound commitment.

Then on p. 8, he says,

Only in more recent years have psychiatrists and others recognized that sexual orientation is both a normal expression of human sexuality and immutable.

Why does this matter?

The “Right to Marry”

First, the core of Justice Kennedy’s argument is that homosexuals have been denied the “fundamental right to marry,” which the Court has described as a “liberty” interest protected by the due process clause of the 14th Amendment in earlier cases. The amendment says a state may not “deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law”).

However, another key precedent concerning the analysis of “fundamental rights” under this clause, a 1997 case involving assisted suicide called Washington v. Glucksberg, has said that before a new “fundamental right” can simply be declared by the Court, there must be a “careful description” of the asserted right, and it must be shown that the “right” so described is “deeply rooted in this Nation’s history and tradition.”

This “Glucksberg test” was a serious problem for those claiming a “fundamental right” to same-sex “marriage.” It is obvious that a “careful description” of the right being asserted in the Obergefell case was “the right to marry a person of the same sex.” It is even more obvious that “the right to marry a person of the same sex” is not “deeply rooted in this Nation’s history and tradition.”

Justice Kennedy got around this seemingly insurmountable obstacle in two ways. First, he simply denied that the binding precedent of the Glucksberg test was actually a binding precedent. Justice Kennedy declared (wrongly), “History and tradition guide and discipline this inquiry but do not set its outer boundaries.” It is notable that in the portion in which Kennedy made this statement, he cites a case from 1961 (Poe v. Ullman), rather than the later precedent of Glucksberg. Chief Justice Roberts pointed this out in his dissent, saying that “the majority’s position requires it to effectively overrule Glucksberg.”

Second, Justice Kennedy argues that the issue is not whether there is a “right to same-sex marriage,” but rather whether gays and lesbians, as persons, may exercise the “fundamental right to marry” which belongs to everyone.

The answer on the face of it is that, even when marriage is defined as the union of one man and one woman, people who identify as gays and lesbians are entirely free to marry. Marriage licenses have never inquired as to the sexual orientation of the spouses. A self-identified gay man may marry—as long as he marries a woman. A self-identified lesbian may marry—as long as she marries a man.

Sexual Attraction as the Basis for Marriage

This sounds absurd to many people—why would you marry someone to whom you are not sexually attracted?

To treat sexual attraction as the fundamental basis for the definition of civil marriage is to assume that the reason marriage is treated as public institution is to promote relationships that bring sexual pleasure to the spouses.

While this may be an important personal interest for the majority of people who marry, it is hard to argue that there is a public interest merely in promoting sexual gratification.

The federal government should not be deciding if people can marry based on their sexual interests.  After all, don’t we want to keep the government out of our bedrooms?

It is particularly odd that the Court would (implicitly) say that sexual attraction is foundational to the definition of marriage, but the potential for procreation (in which there is a significant public interest) is not. The public purpose of marriage historically has been grounded not in the encouragement or affirmation of sexual relationships, but in the need to stabilize them because of the recognition that wanton sexual expression leads to social decay: massive out-of-wedlock births and parentless children, children growingup reckless and uneducated, etc.  Seeking to avoid these and other problems, marriage for millennia has been a public institution, one animated by its implications for society as a whole.

Yet while same-sex marriage claims to imitate natural marriage in stabilizing relationships, the public purpose of such stabilization – prevention of unrestricted, chaotic, and socially disruptive procreation – becomes irrelevant given the inability of same-sex partners mutually to create children. 

I have written about the public purposes of marriage in relation to sex and procreation elsewhere.

In any case, the first premise Justice Kennedy requires in order to claim that self-identified gays and lesbians have been denied the “fundamental right to marry” is the premise that marriage is about sexual attraction.

Is Homosexuality Immutable?

A second premise is also necessary, however. To conclude that a one-man, one-woman marriage definition denies to self-identified gays and lesbians the “fundamental right to marry,” one must not only assume that sexual attraction is foundational to marriage, but must also assume that such attractions can never change—that they are “immutable.”

Justice Kennedy included the “immutability” claim because it is necessary to give his “fundamental rights” argument any coherence at all. Only if (a) sexual attraction is fundamental to marriage and (b) sexual orientation is “immutable” can it be argued that a law defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman is the same as a law saying that there is an entire class of persons (self-identified gays and lesbians) who are denied the fundamental right to marry because it is impossible for them ever to marry.

In support of this claim (that a homosexual orientation is “immutable”), Justice Kennedy cites an amicus curiae (“friend of the court”) brief filed in the case by the American Psychological Association (APA—not to be confused with the other APA, the American Psychiatric Association).

This brief can be found online on the Supreme Court’s website here.  Yet surprisingly, a word search shows that the word “immutable” appears nowhere in the brief.

The closest to which it comes is a statement, in a topic heading, that sexual orientation “Is Highly Resistant to Change.” This is not the same as “immutable.” The word “immutable” suggests an absolute, 100 percent, without-exception type of statement. Race is an immutable characteristic (and the mockery of Rachel Dolezal, a white woman who claims to be black, simply demonstrates the widespread understanding of that fact). One’s biological sex is “immutable” (the “gender transition” of transgendered Americans notwithstanding). “Highly resistant to change” is a strong statement, but in an entirely different category from truly immutable characteristics such as race and sex. It is definitely not an absolute one.

However, when one reads the entire text of the section of the APA brief that Kennedy cited, the actual evidence offered hardly even supports the “highly resistant to change” characterization. For example, the section begins this way:

Sexual orientation refers to an enduring disposition to experience sexual, affectional, or romantic attractions to men, women, or both. It also encompasses an individual’s sense of personal and social identity based on those attractions, behaviors expressing them, and membership in a community of others who share them. Although sexual orientation ranges along a continuum from exclusively heterosexual to exclusively homosexual, it is usually discussed in terms of three categories: heterosexual (having sexual and romantic attraction primarily or exclusively to members of the other sex), homosexual (having sexual and romantic attraction primarily or exclusively to members of one’s own sex), and bisexual (having a significant degree of sexual and romantic attraction to both sexes).

This description bears a striking resemblance to the key point I made in my 2011 pamphlet, Debating Homosexuality—namely that “sexual orientation” is not one thing, but is an umbrella term for several different things. They include a person’s sexual attractions, sexual behavior, and sexual self-identification. The APA cites all three of these (“attractions,” “behaviors,” and “identity”), while even adding a fourth category (“membership in a community”).

This brings me to a “gotcha” question often asked by people in the media: “Do you think people are born gay, or do they choose to be gay?” The best answer is, “Neither,” because the question presents a false dichotomy.

No one knowledgeable about “sexual orientation” issues would claim that most people with same-sex sexual attractions “choose” to experience those attractions. However, the meaning of “sexual orientation” is not limited to sexual attractions, as even the APA acknowledges. It also “encompasses” behaviors, identity, and “membership in a community”—all of which are primarily a matter of personal choice, and therefore by definition not “immutable.”

In addition to defining “sexual orientation” in terms of multiple factors, all but one of which involve significant freedom of choice, the APA brief uses other language one usually would not expect in a description of an “immutable” characteristic. It says that sexual orientation “ranges along a continuum from exclusively heterosexual to exclusively homosexual,” and that each of the two major poles of sexual orientation, heterosexual and homosexual, can be defined in terms of “attraction primarily or exclusively” (emphasis added) to either opposite or the same sex. The use of the word “primarily,” and not just “exclusively,” is a concession that some people may identify as “homosexual” even though they have some opposite-sex attractions. Again, this is hardly as absolute as the word “immutable” would suggest.

Although I would never argue that sexual attractions are primarily “chosen,” the APA actually concedes that at least some homosexuals acknowledge that “choice” played a role in their sexual orientation. Here is what the APA wrote about that topic in the amicus brief cited by Justice Kennedy:

Most gay men and lesbians do not experience their sexual orientation as a voluntary choice. In a [national survey], only 5% of gay men and 16% of lesbians reported feeling they had “a fair amount” or “a great deal” of choice about their sexual orientation. Fully 88% of gay men and 68% of lesbians reported that they had “no choice at all.”

But if sexual orientation is inborn and “immutable,” as Justice Kennedy asserts, wouldn’t you expect 100% to say that they had “no choice at all?” The fact that, among self-identified lesbians, nearly one in three said they had at least some choice, and nearly one in six said they had “a fair amount” or “a great deal” of choice, would seem to seriously undermine the notion that homosexuals are always “born gay and can’t change.”

The APA’s brief also cites another publication the APA issued in 2009 which addressed the issue of “sexual orientation change efforts.” Here is how the brief characterizes the conclusions of the 2009 publication:

Although some groups and individuals have offered clinical interventions that purport to change sexual orientation from homosexual to heterosexual— sometimes called “conversion” therapies—these interventions have not been shown to be effective or safe. A review of the scientific literature by an APA task force concluded that sexual orientation change efforts are unlikely to succeed and can be harmful.

One thing to know about the 2009 publication is that—like the 2015 amicus brief—nowhere in either texts is the word “immutable” used to describe sexual orientation. Note also the less than absolute language of the conclusion—saying that such efforts “are unlikely to succeed” is not at all the same as saying they “cannot” succeed; whereas, saying they “can be harmful” is not at all the same as saying they are always harmful. Here is a key quote from the 2009 Task Force Report:

Although the recent studies do not provide valid causal evidence of the efficacy of SOCE or of its harm, some recent studies document that there are people who perceive that they have been harmed through SOCE. [emphasis added]

Even the APA is conceding here that claims of “harm” from SOCE are supported by no more “valid causal evidence” than claims of its efficacy. The statement that some people “perceive” they have been harmed really amounts to a back-handed concession that the evidence of “harm” is primarily anecdotal, not scientific.

More and better research is clearly needed. However, there is actually an abundance of evidence, both scientific and anecdotal, that sexual orientation can be changed; the addition of the words “valid causal” represent an effort to discount that fact by raising the bar as to what is accepted as evidence.

In fact, Nicholas A. Cummings, a former president of the American Psychological Association, wrote in USA Today in 2013, “Of the patients I oversaw who sought to change their orientation, hundreds were successful,” adding, “…contending that all same-sex attraction is immutable is a distortion of reality.”

Ironically, when the Supreme Court handed down its ruling on June 26th, I was at the national conference of the Restored Hope Network—a network of Christian ministries that help individuals to overcome unwanted same-sex attractions—along with dozens of ex-gays whose existence Justice Kennedy seemed to deny. Many people who once had a homosexual sexual orientation—as measured by attractions, behaviors, and identity—have experienced transformation and are already legally married to someone of the opposite sex. Some of these, like Garry and Melissa Ingraham, are now active in helping others change. Others, like former lesbian Chirlane McCray (who is now married to Bill de Blasio, mayor of New York City), simply moved beyond “the assumptions I had about the form and package my love would come in.”

Change of sexual orientation can happen in either direction. The Family Research Council’s own amicus brief to the Supreme Court was unique in pointing out the “remarkable (but heretofore unnoticed) fact that dozens of the plaintiffs in the same-sex marriage cases that have been brought over the last twenty-four years previously had been married to a person of the opposite sex.” This is proof on its face that either: a) people with a homosexual orientation are capable of marriage to the opposite sex (if we assume that these plaintiffs were homosexual all along); or b) people’s sexual orientation can change during the life course; or both. However, if either assumption (whether a or b) is true, it demolishes the premise of Justice Kennedy’s opinion.

None of this is to suggest that changing one’s sexual orientation is easy. Most people will never try, and of those who do try, some will fail. But some also succeed.  This, and the fact that some people move from homosexual relationships to heterosexual ones—or vice versa—serve as proof that sexual orientation is not “immutable.”

Justice Kennedy’s claim that a homosexual orientation is “immutable” was his bridge from identifying the desire of some people to marry someone of the same sex to identifying a “fundamental right” to do so. The claim, however, is unsubstantiated—making the bridge a shaky one indeed.

Conservatives Are Clear on Gender Confusion

by Peter Sprigg

July 31, 2015

Jennifer Gruenke, a professor of biology at Union University (a Christian college in Tennessee), has written a piece in The Public Discourse challenging the “conservative approach to transgenderism,” declaring that “there are good scientific reasons for supposing that subjective experience of gender is legitimate, even when it contradicts apparent biological sex.”

One example of the “conservative approach” that Dr. Gruenke questions would be found in the Family Research Council’s recent Issue Analysis, “Understanding and Responding to the Transgender Movement,” which Dale O’Leary and I co-authored.

Only a day after Gruenke’s piece appeared, The Public Discourse published a thoughtful and thorough response by Gregory Brown. I commend it (and the FRC paper mentioned above) to your attention, and will limit my comments here to only a few.

First, Dr. Gruenke is a biologist. Therefore, perhaps not surprisingly, her article has a strong bias toward seeking biological (rather than psychological) explanations for transgenderism — the phenomenon of people experiencing an inner mental conviction that they are or should be of the gender opposite to their biological sex.

Because of this bias on the part of Dr. Gruenke, I am inclined to give more credence to the expertise of Dr. Paul McHugh, who as a psychiatrist can be expected to have insight into both the biological and psychological aspects of the issue. Dr. McHugh, former chief of psychiatry at Johns Hopkins University and Hospital, is perhaps the leading expert spokesman for the “conservative approach” that Gruenke questions. McHugh has declared bluntly, “It is a disorder of the mind. Not a disorder of the body.” He has also lamented about his profession, saying, “We have wasted scientific and technical resources and damaged our professional credibility by collaborating with madness rather than trying to study, cure, and ultimately prevent it.”  McHugh has written about this issue in The American Scholar, First Things, The Wall Street Journal, and The Public Discourse itself.

Most of Gruenke’s article deals with so-called “intersex” conditions (now also known as “disorders of sexual development,” or DSDs). These are conditions in which some of the biological indicators of sex (such as internal sex organs, external genitalia, and chromosomal make-up) are inconsistent with each other or with what is typical of the individual’s (apparent) sex.

Yet people on all sides of the transgender debate agree that true biological intersex conditions (which are rare) are not the same as the transgender phenomenon. In fact, until 2013, people with a DSD were explicitly excluded from a diagnosis of “gender identity disorder” according to the American Psychiatric Association. With the publication that year of the 5th edition of the APA’s “Diagnostic and Statistical Manual” (DSM-5), people with DSDs were included under those with (the newly re-named) “gender dysphoria,” but only in a separate sub-category. The World Professional Association for Transgender Health — the leading pro-transgender professional organization — agrees, saying, “In people with a DSD, gender dysphoria differs [from in most transgender people] in its phenomenological presentation, epidemiology, life trajectories, and etiology.”

Gruenke’s description of several such conditions, therefore, is interesting but ultimately irrelevant. The vast majority of people with “gender dysphoria” have no anatomical or chromosomal irregularity or inconsistency at all. In discussing such cases, all Gruenke is left with is pure speculation about some hypothetical “mutation” that might affect brain development but has no impact on either the sex chromosomes or any aspect of sexual anatomy, and is “only discernible through introspection.” Such speculation is a rather weak read on which to lean.

Gruenke also notes an analogy that some critics of the transgender movement have made. They have argued that a man who perceives himself as a woman has a distorted self-concept of his body comparable to that of an anorexic — a person who is underweight yet perceives herself as overweight. McHugh, for example, has said gender dysphoria “belongs in the family of similarly disordered assumptions about the body, such as anorexia nervosa and body dysmorphic disorder. Its treatment should not be directed at the body as with surgery and hormones any more than one treats obesity-fearing anorexic patients with liposuction.”

Gruenke seeks to rebut this argument by pointing out that anorexia can actually be fatal. However, this rebuttal is ultimately not convincing. It is true that the body’s nutritional system is necessary to maintain life. While one can survive without reproducing, full sex reassignment surgery essentially destroys the reproductive system (and makes even sexual intercourse extremely difficult, unlike more modest forms of sterilization). It is hard to see how it could be considered consistent with the ethical principle of “do no harm.”

There should be no objection to biologists continuing research to try to determine if there are genetic or biological disorders of sexual development (DSD) that have not been discovered or explained yet. However, the evidence seems clear that most people who identify as transgender have co-morbid psychological disorders which provide a better explanation for their “confusion” (and yes, even “delusion”) than anything biological. And it is also clear that most people who counsel and do surgery for gender transition have an ideological bias which leads them to ignore these issues and simply support whatever solution (transition, hormones, and/or surgery) that the person requests.

Human Rights Campaign Doubles Down on Alternative Views

by Travis Weber

July 28, 2015

On Monday, the Boys Scouts of America voted to allow gay adults to lead troops and work in the organization, while still letting church-chartered troops make their own decisions on this issue. While this is disappointing considering the BSA had already won a long legal battle culminating in a Supreme Court win against those who wanted to disrupt the group’s First Amendment freedom of association and force it to admit those living lives inconsistent with its values, it was not unexpected considering the BSA’s other recent actions. Despite clearly having constitutional protection, the group gave it up anyway in order to be accepted and make the cultural tension go away. This latest decision is Exhibit A for the claim that law follows culture.

But perhaps even more troubling than giving up hard-won constitutional protections was the response of those who benefit from this change. Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin wasn’t totally satisfied with the change, but added: “Including an exemption for troops sponsored by religious organizations undermines and diminishes the historic nature of today’s decision. Discrimination should have no place in the Boy Scouts, period.”

Everyone should take note of such statements, as further claims by the HRC and their allies of wanting to protect religious liberty simply can’t be trusted. Maybe the HRC never cared about religious liberty in any form, but now just thinks it can get away with making such statements and doesn’t have to hide its disregard for the concept anymore. Who knows.

Regardless, as David French points out at National Review, the fact that the new BSA policy didn’t impose on religious liberty enough “displeased the lords of political correctness” like HRC, who “would rather destroy scouting than see it maintain its culturally and religiously conservative heritage.”

Roughly 70 percent of Boy Scout troops are chartered to religious institutions, most of them Catholic, Evangelical Protestant, and Mormon. If they are forced to choose between the moral teachings of their faiths and allegiance to a BSA that mandates acceptance of gay Scout leaders, they will opt for the latter. This will lead to the collapse of the Boy Scouts of America as a viable organization. However, this evidently is inconsequential to Chad Griffin and his allies in the LGBT movement.

The Mormon church has already expressed concern about this new policy. And many churches behind troops would rather just give up their troops than compromise their beliefs. According to another report on this decision, the “BSA has vowed to provide legal support to any church-backed chartered organizations that are challenged in court over the continued ban.” Far from being heartwarming, however, this statements seems to be a tacit acknowledgement that such suits will be forthcoming. Intolerance always takes its toll on democracy.

Contrast Griffin’s position with that of Michael Harrison, a businessman who led Boy Scouts in Orange County, California, who (though still supporting the resolution) said:

There are differences of opinion, and we need to be respectful of them … . It doesn’t mean the Mormons have to pick a gay scoutmaster, but please don’t tell the Unitarians they can’t.”

While still troublesome in light of the fact that the BSA didn’t need to voluntarily give up its protections, at least such a statement shows some respect for democratic pluralism, unlike Chad Griffin’s.

If the HRC and others are going to take the official position of not tolerating private free association in a democratic society, then we must start describing these groups as they have described themselves by their own free adoption of such a position: authoritarian, conformist, and Orwellian.

FRC Advancing, Not “Surrendering,” on Transgender Issue

by Peter Sprigg

July 2, 2015

It is odd that Slate, in a piece by Jacob Brogan, argues that Family Research Council’s detailed new paper by Dale O’Leary and Peter Sprigg, “Understanding and Responding to the Transgender Movement,” represents “a flag of surrender.” Since this is the first comprehensive research paper specifically on the transgender movement that FRC has published in its 32-year existence, it is not a “surrender,” but the exact opposite — a clear declaration of our intention to engage actively in the debate over this issue and offer an alternative path to the leftist social agenda that only harms those struggling with gender dysphoria.  Although the paper has been in the works for months, the fact that it was finally completed and published in the same month as Bruce Jenner’s much-publicized “coming out” as “Caitlyn” makes it all the more timely.

It should not be any surprise that the paper addresses “leftist concepts and categories.” After all, the first purpose of the paper, as expressed in the title itself, is to “understand” the transgender movement — which is entirely reliant on “leftist concepts and categories,” and not on scientific research. For example, the paper certainly discusses “the contrast between sex and gender” in leftist thought, but we do not “internalize” it — on the contrary, we explicitly reject the “distorted psychological self-concept that one’s ‘gender identity’ is different from one’s biological sex.”

The fact that we quote sources on the left, such as the homosexual former Congressman Barney Frank and the lesbian feminist Janice Raymond, illustrates that concern about some aspects of the trans-agenda does not only arise from “traditional values” — which would make it easier for Brogan to dismiss such concerns. Brogan is correct to say that in our paper, “leftist identity politics” have been “turned back against themselves” — because we have exposed that such concepts are incoherent, illogical, indefensible, and/or internally inconsistent.

The fact that “the far right no longer controls the conversation on gender and sexuality issues” — at least in the major cultural institutions of the news media, the entertainment media, and the educational establishment — has been true ever since the sexual revolution of the 1960’s. The stranglehold of political correctness on those institutions is not something new to 2015. However, the “intellectual foundation of our own” is the undeniable reality that biological sex is immutable. The further (and sadder) reality is that if “gender transition” and “gender reassignment surgery” are supposed to ease the psychological problems of those with “gender dysphoria,” they are a proven failure. It matters not that we cite older sources to support this, since the reality has not changed (although expert psychiatrist Paul McHugh of Johns Hopkins has continued to speak out on this issue right up to the present day).

I give Brogan credit for at least having read the paper (that is more than I can say for some of the people who wrote “reviews” of my book about the redefinition of marriage, Outrage). However, he ignores (or perhaps did not read) the entire second section, dealing with the public policy responses to the transgender movement. It is there where FRC intends to engage — and will never surrender.

Four Short Observations about Justice Kennedy’s Opinion on Same-Sex Unions

by Rob Schwarzwalder

June 26, 2015

Homosexuality is an “Immutable” Characteristic

Far from seeking to devalue marriage, the petitioners seek it for themselves because of their respect—and need—for its privileges and responsibilities.  And their immutable nature dictates that same-sex marriage is their only real path to this profound commitment.” Opinion of the Court, p. 4

Wrong: Homosexuality is NOT an immutable characteristic.  This is documented copiously and is demonstrated anecdotally by everyone from Rosaria Butterfield to Chirlane McCray, the wife of New York Mayor Bill DeBlasio.

As reported in an amicus brief for the Family Research Council, an examination of just some of the complaints that have been brought to date challenging state marriage laws reveals that dozens of the plaintiffs seeking to marry someone of the same sex previously were married to someone of the opposite sex. Notwithstanding their (presumed) sexual orientation, they were issued a license to marry. It might be argued that at the time of their previous marriage, they were not homosexual. But that response creates a new problem. If they were heterosexual then, but are homosexual now, then their sexual orientation could not be said to be immutable. – FRC Senior Fellow Peter Sprigg, The Wrong Argument Against Traditional Marriage, April 27, 2015

Changing Understandings of Marriage”

The ancient origins of marriage confirm its centrality, but it has not stood in isolation from developments in law and society. The history of marriage is one of both continuity and change. That institution—even as confined to opposite-sex relations—has evolved over time.  For example, marriage was once viewed as an arrangement by the couple’s parents based on political, religious, and financial concerns; but by the time of the Nation’s founding it was understood to be a voluntary contract between a man and a woman … Indeed, changed understandings of marriage are characteristic of a Nation where new dimensions of freedom become apparent to new generations, often through perspectives that begin in pleas or protests and then are considered in the political sphere and the judicial process.” Opinion of the Court, pp. 6-7

Wrong: The nature of marriage as the union of one man and one woman has never changed. Legal matters attendant to marriage (women’s property rights, arrangements by parents, etc.) have changed, but the nature of marriage has itself never changed.  Kennedy’s argument says, in essence, that because a car now has airbags, it should be called an airplane.  Incorrect: It remains a car, even if improvements have been made to its engine, its safety, etc.

These aspects of marriage—the complementarity of male and female, and the irreplaceable role of male-female relations in reproducing the human race—are part of the original order of creation, and are evident to all human beings from the enduring order of nature. These common elements of marriage are at the heart of our civil laws defining and regulating marriage. Therefore, people of all cultures and religions—including those who lack faith in God, Christ, or the Bible—are capable of participating in the institution of marriage. – Andreas Kostenberger, Ph.D., “The Bible’s Teaching on Marriage and Family”

Homosexuality is analogous to race

When new insight reveals discord between the Constitution’s central protections and a received legal stricture, a claim to liberty must be addressed.  Applying these established tenets, the Court has long held the right to marry is protected by the Constitution.  In Loving v. Virginia, 388 U. S. 1, 12 (1967), which invalidated bans on interracial unions, a unanimous Court held marriage is ‘one of the vital personal rights essential to the orderly pursuit of happiness by free men’.” Opinion of the Court, p. 8

Wrong: Race is immutable and benign.  It is irrelevant to with one’s character or conduct.  Homosexuality is not immutable and those who practice same-sex intimacy are engaging in behavior that has intrinsic moral content.

One of the four criteria for defining a classification such as sexual orientation as suspect—which in turn subjects laws targeting that class of people to the highest burden of proof—is that the group in question share an immutable characteristic. The immutability of sexual orientation is hardly a settled matter—just ask Anne Heche (the former partner of celebrity and lesbian Ellen DeGeneres who has now affirmed her heterosexuality). - Margaret Talbot, “Is Sexuality Immutable?” The New Yorker, January 25, 2010

Marriage is a matter of “individual autonomy”

A first premise of the Court’s relevant precedents is that the right to personal choice regarding marriage is inherent in the concept of individual autonomy.” Opinion of the Court, p. 13

Wrong: While individual autonomy in terms of “personal choice” is “inherent in the concept” of marriage, marriage is not strictly about personal volition.  It is a social institution designed for procreation and child-rearing in a complementary household in which a child benefits from the influence of differently-gendered parents.

Marriage is based on the truth that men and women are complementary, the biological fact that reproduction depends on a man and a woman, and the reality that children need a mother and a father. Redefining marriage does not simply expand the existing understanding of marriage; it rejects these truths. Marriage is society’s least restrictive means of ensuring the well-being of children. By encouraging the norms of marriage—monogamy, sexual exclusivity, and permanence—the state strengthens civil society and reduces its own role. The future of this country depends on the future of marriage. – Ryan T. Anderson, “Marriage: What It Is, Why It Matters, and the Consequences of Redefining It”, Heritage Foundation, March 11, 2013

SPLC attack on JONAH, Jewish non-profit that aids in sexual orientation change, goes to trial in New Jersey; Links to coverage here

by Peter Sprigg

June 16, 2015

A shocking attack on the freedom and privacy of the relationship between private counselors and their clients is currently underway in New Jersey. The wealthy left-wing activist group known as the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) is seeking to destroy a small Jewish non-profit known as JONAH—Jews Offering New Alternatives for Healing. JONAH’s offense? Referring clients with unwanted same-sex attractions (usually, but not always, Jewish) to counselors who can help them to overcome those attractions and live lives consistent with the biblical teaching of the Torah.

The weapon being used by the SPLC is New Jersey’s unusually draconian “consumer fraud” statute, with SPLC arguing that to claim sexual orientation is changeable and that counseling can help effect such change is inherently fraudulent.

One might think that homosexual activists, who have long demanded respect for their own personal autonomy in making choices about how to respond to their own sexual attractions, would shrug their shoulders and ask, “What’s it to me?” when discussing the fact that for some people, same-sex attractions are experienced as unwanted. However, the fact that some people change their sexual orientation undermines the claim that “sexual orientation” is an immutable characteristic like race—a claim that has been useful to such activists in their campaign to win official public affirmation and celebration of homosexual relationships under the guise of “non-discrimination.”

Instead, a concerted effort to discredit what are called, broadly, “sexual orientation change efforts,” or “SOCE,” has gone from professional organizations like the American Psychological Association to legislative chambers, where California, New Jersey, and the District of Columbia have already enacted laws to outlaw SOCE for minors by licensed mental health providers. The JONAH lawsuit (which targets SOCE for adults as well as minors, and activity conducted by unlicensed “life coaches” as well as licensed mental health providers) is a second prong of this new legal attack.

Pro-family activist and writer Austin Ruse has provided a valuable service by covering the first two weeks of the JONAH trial for Breitbart.com. Since the secular media shows bias in favor of the plaintiffs, coverage by Ruse (and an article by therapist Christopher Doyle, himself a former homosexual) provide a valuable counterpoint.

Austin Ruse gives a preview of the trial during jury selection in this article: “Powerful Leftist Group Sues to Close Jewish Counseling Service for Gays”

 

Christopher Doyle describes Day 1 of the trial here: Highlights from the JONAH Trial: Day 1

Media Has Already Pronounced Judgment Against JONAH in “Trial of the Century”

 

Ruse reports on Day 2 of the trial, including contradictory statements made by one of the SPLC’s plaintiffs, here: “Trial to Punish Counseling for Gays Underway in Jersey City”

Ruse describes the history of JONAH here: “Medical Choice at Stake in Gay Counseling Trial”

 

Ruse describes death threats received by both JONAH’s co-founder, Arthur Goldberg, and their attorney, Charles LiMandri, in this piece on Day 4 of the trial: “Death Threats Rock Defendants in Gay Counseling Trial”

 

Ruse reports that LiMandri has done an outstanding job in cross-examining the plaintiffs and their witnesses. His organization, the Freedom of Conscience Defense Fund, needs support from freedom-loving Americans of any religion to pay the mounting expense of this drawn-out suit, which began in 2012. For continuing coverage of the trial and to support the defense, go to www.ConscienceDefense.org.

What Loving Means

by Peter Sprigg

June 12, 2015

June 12 has been dubbed “Loving Day.” No, it is not an effort to compete with Valentine’s Day. “Loving Day” commemorates the anniversary of a Supreme Court decision — in the 1967 case of Loving v. Virginia — in which the court declared that state laws barring interracial marriage were unconstitutional. Advocates for redefining marriage to include same-sex couples argue that this case is precedent for striking down state laws that define marriage as the union of a man and a woman.

Richard Loving, a white man, had married Mildred Jeter Loving, a black woman, in the District of Columbia. They later moved to Virginia; but in 1958, police officers entered their house in the middle of the night and demanded to know, “What are you doing in bed with this lady?” Although the Lovings had their marriage certificate hanging on the wall, the sheriff was unimpressed, declaring, “That’s no good here.” The couple was jailed for five days, after which a judge accepted their guilty plea to a charge of violating the state’s anti-miscegenation statute. They were given the choice of spending a year in jail or leaving the state. They chose to return to D.C.— and then filed suit to overturn their conviction. The Lovings were vindicated by a unanimous Supreme Court nine years later.

California’s Supreme Court had already struck down a similar statute nineteen years earlier (Perez v. Sharp, 1948). That court had declared that “the essence of the right to marry is freedom to join in marriage with the person of one’s choice.” Homosexual activists claim that this is precisely the principle that should apply to their efforts to marry a chosen person of the same sex.

There is a certain logic to this argument. Laws against same-sex marriage do restrict a person’s choice of marriage partner, as did laws against interracial marriage. But the flaw in the argument is that no one — not even the most radical advocate of homosexual marriage — is proposing to eliminate all restrictions on one’s choice of marriage partner. Every state forbids marriage to specific classes of people — namely, those who are already married, children, or certain close blood relatives.

The point, then, of the cases on interracial marriage cannot have been that restrictions on marital choice are unacceptable across the board. It was, rather, more specifically that race was not a legitimate basis for imposing such a restriction.

The constitutional basis of the case against the “anti-miscegenation” laws was that they violated the 14th Amendment’s equal protection clause, which states that no state may “deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.” Courts have ruled that this does not mean states can never have laws that treat some people differently from others, but those distinctions must have a reason and cannot be arbitrary.

It is worth reading an excerpt from the court’s decision in Loving (citations omitted or abbreviated). This was the conclusion of the Court’s Equal Protection analysis:

The clear and central purpose of the Fourteenth Amendment was to eliminate all official state sources of invidious racial discrimination in the States.

There can be no question but that Virginia’s miscegenation statutes rest solely upon distinctions drawn according to race. The statutes proscribe generally accepted conduct if engaged in by members of different races. Over the years, this Court has consistently repudiated “[d]istinctions between citizens solely because of their ancestry” as being “odious to a free people whose institutions are founded upon the doctrine of equality.” Hirabayashi v. United States (1943). At the very least, the Equal Protection Clause demands that racial classifications, especially suspect in criminal statutes, be subjected to the “most rigid scrutiny,” Korematsu v. United States (1944), and, if they are ever to be upheld, they must be shown to be necessary to the accomplishment of some permissible state objective, independent of the racial discrimination which it was the object of the Fourteenth Amendment to eliminate. Indeed, two members of this Court have already stated that they “cannot conceive of a valid legislative purpose … which makes the color of a person’s skin the test of whether his conduct is a criminal offense.” McLaughlin v. Florida.

There is patently no legitimate overriding purpose independent of invidious racial discrimination which justifies this classification. The fact that Virginia prohibits only interracial marriages involving white persons demonstrates that the racial classifications must stand on their own justification, as measures designed to maintain White Supremacy. We have consistently denied the constitutionality of measures which restrict the rights of citizens on account of race. There can be no doubt that restricting the freedom to marry solely because of racial classifications violates the central meaning of the Equal Protection Clause.

Just in these short paragraphs there are references to “racial discrimination,” “distinctions drawn according to race,” “ancestry,” “racial classifications,” “the color of a person’s skin” — a dozen such references in all. This should be sufficient to demonstrate that Loving was not based on a generalized right to marry “the person of your choice,” but was rather based specifically on the Constitution’s clear prohibition of state-sponsored discrimination based on race.

Advocates for redefining marriage have also argued that same-sex couples have been denied the “fundamental right to marry,” an interest in “liberty” that courts have found to be implicit in the 14th Amendment’s “Due Process” clause, which says that no state shall “deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law . . .”

Advocates of marriage redefinition point out that Loving was based on a “due process/fundamental right” argument, not just an equal protection one. True — but here is the entire text of the Court’s fundamental rights analysis in Loving:

These statutes also deprive the Lovings of liberty without due process of law in violation of the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The freedom to marry has long been recognized as one of the vital personal rights essential to the orderly pursuit of happiness by free men.

Marriage is one of the “basic civil rights of man,” fundamental to our very existence and survival. Skinner v. Oklahoma, (1942). See also Maynard v. Hill, (1888). To deny this fundamental freedom on so unsupportable a basis as the racial classifications embodied in these statutes, classifications so directly subversive of the principle of equality at the heart of the Fourteenth Amendment, is surely to deprive all the State’s citizens of liberty without due process of law. The Fourteenth Amendment requires that the freedom of choice to marry not be restricted by invidious racial discriminations. Under our Constitution, the freedom to marry, or not marry, a person of another race resides with the individual and cannot be infringed by the State.

This part of the opinion was a scant 169 words out of over 2,500 in the decision. However, it, too, makes reference to “racial classifications” and “invidious racial discriminations.” There is thus no reason to believe that Loving forbids classifications on some basis other than race.

Numerous courts considering same-sex “marriage” lawsuits have rejected the Loving analogy. As the judge in a 2003 Indiana case (Morrison v. Sadler) noted, “Anti-miscegenation laws, because they interfered with the traditional marriage relationships in pursuit of opprobrious racial segregation policies, had no legitimate connection to the institution of marriage itself… . [W]hatever else marriage is about, it is not about racial segregation.” In contrast, however, “restrictions against same-sex marriage reinforce, rather than disrupt, the traditional understanding of marriage as a unique relationship between a woman and a man. Marriage traditionally and definitionally has had to do with the sex of each participant.”

A Superior Court in New Jersey came to a similar conclusion in a similar case (Lewis v. Harris) in 2003:

Plaintiffs’ reliance on decisions striking down statutes that prohibit interracial marriage is misplaced. These decisions derive from Constitutional amendments prohibiting racial discrimination and subjecting laws that classify individuals based on race to the highest level of scrutiny. No similar Constitutional provisions outlaw statutory classifications based on sexual orientation … . Comparing the State’s marriage statutes to laws perpetuating racial prejudice, therefore, is inapposite.

Individuals challenging bans on interracial marriage had a powerful weapon: Federal Constitutional provisions, passed by Congress and adopted by State Legislatures, that expressly prohibited States from denying recognized rights based on race. It was entirely appropriate for the courts to enforce those duly enacted Constitutional provisions by striking down statutes that made race a qualifying condition for access to a recognized right to marry. Plaintiffs, on the other hand, assert their claims in the absence of express Constitutional provisions supporting their position, and ask the court to circumvent the Legislative process by creating a right that has never before been recognized in this country.

The mandate for racial equality is firmly enshrined in both the Federal and State Constitutions. Importantly, two amendments to the United States Constitution expressly address racial equality [the 13th and 14th]… .

The Supreme Court’s decision in Loving v. Virginia is predicated entirely on the Fourteenth Amendment’s prohibition of racial classifications… .

No similar Constitutional provision accords heightened protection to individuals who claim that statutes discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation… .

… [P]laintiffs … lack the significant legal foundation that was available to the plaintiffs in Loving to demand judicial recognition of the rights they seek.

In November 2014, a panel from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit upheld one-man-one-woman marriage laws in Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky, and Tennessee. It is the appeal of these cases (consolidated under the case name Obergefell v. Hodges) which is now before the Supreme Court.

The Sixth Circuit panel noted another compelling reason for questioning whether Loving provides a precedent for allowing same-sex couples to legally “marry.” In 1972, a case out of Minnesota (Baker v. Nelson), making the same claims for same-sex “marriage” now being asserted, was appealed to the Supreme Court. It dismissed the case “for want of a substantial federal question,” a disposal which provides a binding precedent on all lower courts. It is irrational to claim that Loving established a right to same-sex “marriage,” when the Supreme Court already rejected that argument five years after Loving was decided:

Matters do not change because Loving v. Virginia held that “marriage” amounts to a fundamental right. When the Court decided Loving, “marriage between a man and a woman no doubt [was] thought of … as essential to the very definition of that term.” Windsor, 133 S. Ct. at 2689. In referring to “marriage” rather than “opposite-sex marriage,” Loving confirmed only that “opposite-sex marriage” would have been considered redundant, not that marriage included same-sex couples. Loving did not change the definition. That is why the Court said marriage is “fundamental to our very existence and survival,” a reference to the procreative definition of marriage. Had a gay African-American male and a gay Caucasian male been denied a marriage license in Virginia in 1968, would the Supreme Court have held that Virginia had violated the Fourteenth Amendment? No one to our knowledge thinks so, and no Justice to our knowledge has ever said so. The denial of the license would have turned not on the races of the applicants but on a request to change the definition of marriage. Had Loving meant something more when it pronounced marriage a fundamental right, how could the Court hold in Baker five years later that gay marriage does not even raise a substantial federal question? Loving addressed, and rightly corrected, an unconstitutional eligibility requirement for marriage; it did not create a new definition of marriage.

Natural Marriage Builds Bridges, Not Walls

The clear purpose of the bans on interracial marriage was to build walls between two groups of people in society, blacks and whites. Such laws were designed to reinforce a system of racial segregation, keeping the races apart from one another.

In contrast, defining marriage as the union of male and female has exactly the opposite intent and effect. Rather than building walls between two classes of people, it creates a bridge across the most fundamental gap in humanity — the gap between male and female. Bridging the divide of the sexes by uniting men and women in marriage is common to all human civilizations, and serves the good of society.

Interracial marriage does not change the definition of marriage, and laws against interracial marriage had as their only purpose preserving a social system of racial segregation.

Homosexual “marriage,” on the other hand, changes the fundamental definition of the institution, and would form at least three segregated forms of marriage: male-only unions, female-only unions, and opposite-sex unions.

Legally defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman does not burden the institution of marriage. Instead, it preserves marriage’s nature and purpose. Homosexual marriage is not a “civil right,” it is a political demand that should be denied.

Note: Portions of this post were excerpted from Peter Sprigg’s book Outrage: How Gay Activists and Liberal Judges are Trashing Democracy to Redefine Marriage (Washington, DC: Regnery Publishing, Inc., 2004).

Does Masculinity Matter?

by Rob Schwarzwalder

June 4, 2015

For that matter, does masculinity even exist?

In an era of Bruce Jenner’s sexual self-reinvention, same-sex adoptions, “gender studies,” “transgendered” bathrooms, etc., does being a man have any meaning, objectively, morally, or culturally?

Does a child need a father and a mother or just two parents?

Is sexuality “fluid,” elastic, subjective?

Of course, at FRC we answer yes to all but the last of these questions. We believe that God made man male and female (Genesis 1:27, 5:2), and that His creation is good.

Our friends at the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood provide an outstanding guide to what Scripture teaches about masculinity. Hint: Throw out any hostile stereotypes you might have (for example, that Christianity somehow affirms the right of men to be victimizing aggressors, predatory users of women, etc.) and see what the Bible says.

Men and women are different. Let’s rejoice that this is now, and always will be, so.

May Day! May Day! For Britain and for US

by Robert Morrison

May 4, 2015

For Britain, it is May Day. May Day was last Friday. The First of May has been a traditional holiday in Britain and Europe for centuries. Since the French Revolution, however, May Day represented workers and the Left.

May Day!” is also the international distress call (M’aidez—from the French for help me!) Next Friday, there will be an important national election in Great Britain. It could have profound influence on America. Polls are unusually volatile this time, but British Labour Party leader, Ed Miliband, could win and be installed in Number 10 Downing Street as Prime Minister.

If that happens, Britain will lurch dangerously to the Left. Among a raft of radical proposals, Miliband is promising (or threatening) to make “Islamophobia” a crime if Labour wins a majority in the House of Commons. Under the parliamentary system, the House of Commons wields almost unchecked power.

Ed Miliband certainly would not claim to be anti-Jewish. His own parents were Jewish refugees from Hitler’s murderous regime. They sought asylum in Britain. But Ed Miliband is a true believer—not in God, he’s an atheist—but in Marxism. As hard as that may be to believe, it is nonetheless true.

Ed Miliband had to oust his own brother David for the leadership of Britain’s Labour Party. But mostly, he repudiated “New Labour,” the shift toward moderation represented by the long tenure of Prime Minister Tony Blair.

Just as President Obama sought out Marxist professors in college, Ed Miliband is the product of the most left-leaning background imaginable (during his American stay, he even developed a fanatical loyalty to an American baseball team: the Boston Red Sox!)

Britain’s socialists make it easy for voters: They wear red. Their posters and buttons are red. Even their ties, when they wear them, are red.

The reason the Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron is in trouble is not because he’s not compassionate enough; it’s because he’s not conservative enough.

He is wedded to the increasingly troubled, bureaucratic, undemocratic European Union (EU). And Cameron ignored mounting evidence that maintaining marriage as the union of one man and one woman is vital for a flourishing civil society. He cast aside reasonable concerns when he rammed through Parliament a bill to grant marriage rights to same-sex couples. This caused deep misgivings among many of the Tories’ grassroots supporters.

These traditional Tory voters have been moving to the United Kingdom Independent Party (UKIP). Party leader Nicholas Farage is anti-EU and is raising sharp questions about Britain’s immigration policies, which Cameron has maintained.

Cameron has recently made statements supporting Christians persecuted abroad—which is more than President Obama has done. But at home, Prime Minister Cameron’s government is not meeting the challenge of Islamism.

Several years ago, the Anglican Bishop of Rochester, the Rt. Rev. Michael Nazir-ali told a group at the Heritage Foundation that England is daily losing her historic identity. England, the prelate said, is characterized by Common Law and the Christian religion.

Every day, said the Pakistani-born bishop, Britain is giving in to Islamist demands.

Bishop Nazir-ali has been threatened with death for speaking out against Islamism. When asked if muezzins should be permitted to call the Muslim faithful to prayer his English diocese of Rochester, Bishop Nazir-ali, replied: “Yes, of course. As soon as church bells can be rung in Saudi Arabia!”

Ed Miliband would not agree on the importance of a Christian culture. And Leftists here are trying to stamp out all evidences of Christianity from our public life as well.

An example of what Britons call “the looney Left” and a cringing surrender to political correctness is seen in the horrific story of sex trafficking in Rotherham. Columnist Mona Charen spoke to Bill Bennett’s “Morning in America” audience about the horror of Rotherham, England. English girls were trapped by a ring of pedophiles, most of them of Pakistani origin, most of them Muslim. Unwilling to confront this issue, British Labour Party local officials and police abandoned 1400 girls to sexual slavery.

We can expect more, not less, of this if Ed Miliband wins in Britain. Despite the fact that his fled from murderous anti-Semitism, Ed Miliband could be the man who makes it a crime to criticize any practice of Islam. Thus, objection to female genital mutilation, or dishonor killings, or death threats against apostates will be punishable by fines and prison.

For all his academic brilliance, Ed Miliband seems unaware that modern Islamist radicalism traces its origins to the founding of the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) in Egypt in 1928.

Hassan al-Banna rejected the paganism of Germany’s National Socialist Party (NAZI), but he admired their organizational skill and he fully embraced their Judenhass (Jew hatred). We have been concerned about Muslim Brotherhood influence in our own government as well as in Great Britain. President Obama welcomed and gave millions in foreign aid to Egypt’s MB-dominated government in 2011. (Only when it was overthrown by popular demonstrations and Egypt’s military had to step in did Mr. Obama cut off aid to Egypt.)

Britain has no First Amendment—which is a major reason why we do! Still, Britain’s history of free speech and tolerance of dissent will be at risk if Ed Miliband gains the power to impose his austere brand of socialism.

FRC has long noted that Britain legalized abortion and homosexuality before the U.S. did. Labour in Britain also legalized suicide. That is why what happens in Britain doesn’t necessarily stay in Britain. All of these changes started there and came here. With President Obama equally determined to “fundamentally transform” America, a victory for Labour next Friday could give a sense of inevitability to these dangerous trends. May Day, indeed!

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