Category archives: Human Sexuality

Allied for Truth and Freedom Regarding Unwanted Same-Sex Attractions

by Peter Sprigg

October 15, 2018

Some of the most compassionate and courageous—and least politically correct—people in the country are mental health providers who assist clients with unwanted same-sex attractions. I had the privilege of spending time with some of them on October 5 and 6 in Orlando, at the annual conference of the Alliance for Therapeutic Choice and Scientific Integrity (“The Alliance,” formerly known as the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality, or “NARTH”).

Although LGBT activists have been critical of sexual orientation change efforts (SOCE) for decades, the threat to such therapy has become an existential one only in the last six years, as several states have enacted laws prohibiting licensed mental health providers from engaging in SOCE (often referred to by critics and the media with an outdated term, “conversion therapy”) with minors. However, this year’s Alliance conference came in the wake of an unexpected win, when an even more extreme therapy ban proposal in California was withdrawn by its sponsor, Assemblyman Evan Low, on August 31 (the last day of the legislative session).

The conference featured a variety of presentations and workshops touching on medical, clinical, and cultural issues, as well as research. Attorney Geoff Heath gave an overview of the therapy bans—including several different arguments as to why they should be found unconstitutional. He touched on ways in which they infringe freedom of speech and the free exercise of religion, in addition to noting the more technical legal principle that they may be “void for vagueness.”

It is ironic that attacks upon such therapies have grown ever more extreme, even as the therapists themselves are becoming ever more scrupulous about following “best practices” that avoid the kind of behaviors (such as “coercion” of clients or “guarantees” of complete transformation) of which they are regularly accused. Christopher Rosik, Ph.D., introduced an updated set of Guidelines for the Practice of Sexual Attraction Fluidity Exploration in Therapy (or “SAFE-T,” an acronym coined by the Alliance to better describe the actual focus of such therapy). This carefully reasoned and thoroughly documented 62-page document (not yet available on the Alliance website, at last check—an older version is here) features 13 specific guidelines to ensure that client goals are respected, fully informed consent is obtained, and any potential harm is avoided.

Several sessions addressed research questions. Philip Sutton, Ph.D., gave an introductory presentation with the explanatory title, “Are Same-Sex Attractions and Behaviors (SSA) REALLY Innate, Inconsequential, and Immutable? What Research and Demonstrable Clinical Experience Does and Does Not Show.” Key research findings he explained show that:

  • SSA is not innate.
  • SSA is consequential (that is, it does have many significant negative consequences and co-occurring difficulties—undermining claims that it is a “normal, positive variant of human sexuality”).
  • SSA is mutable (that is, it can change).
  • Some intended and beneficial changes in SSA (often along a continuum) occur through professional and pastoral assistance.
  • Therapeutically assisted change is not invariably harmful.

One of the conference keynote speakers, the Rev. D. Paul Sullins, Ph.D., discussed several research questions. He described existing research showing that the genetic influence on the development of homosexuality is relatively small, while showing that the influence of being a victim of child sexual abuse on developing a later same-sex orientation is significant—both of which undermine the theory that people are “born gay.” He discussed follow-up research he has done (but not yet published) concerning children in same-sex or opposite-sex parent households. He also discussed findings regarding the crisis involving sexual abuse of minors by Catholic priests. (Dr. Sullins is a Catholic priest himself, albeit an unusual one—he is married, having been a married Episcopal priest before converting to Roman Catholicism.)

Carolyn Pela, Ph.D., provided useful training on how to evaluate published research studies. She noted the existence of several different types of studies—exploratory, observational, quasi-experimental, and experimental. Exploratory studies are just that—they simply explore a topic, often through anecdotal accounts, but are incapable of arriving at conclusions that can be generalized to a larger population. Ironically, an often-cited 2002 article on the potential harms of change therapies by Ariel Shidlo and Michael Schroeder was, by its own account, merely an exploratory study, and thus offered no conclusions about the actual prevalence or likelihood of such harm.

Observational studies can demonstrate correlations between variables (“A is often accompanied by B”), but cannot definitively prove causation (“A causes B”). However, correlational studies can still be highly important—the conclusion that smoking is associated with lung cancer was based on correlational studies, for example. Only an experimental design can scientifically prove a causal relationship, but that requires the existence of a control group and random assignment to the study group or control group (this is how studies of new drugs are conducted, for instance). But for some research questions, a truly experimental design is either not practical or not ethical—studies of parenting outcomes, for example, would require that children be randomly assigned at birth to parents! Pela also reviewed questionable research practices that can be found in the areas of recruiting, research procedures, and reporting of results.

One of the clinical presentations was offered by Joseph Nicolosi, Jr., Ph.D. His father, one of the founders of the Alliance, died suddenly in 2017. Dr. Nicolosi, Jr. is carrying on his father’s work, but re-branding it—quite literally, in that he has trademarked the term “reintegrative therapy” to describe his approach (and to distinguish it from the ill-defined term “conversion therapy”). His father had coined the term “reparative therapy” in the 1990’s, but this was often (mistakenly) taken as implying a view that homosexuals were broken and needed to be “repaired.” Nicolosi, Jr. introduced an approach he calls the “reintegrative protocol,” which he insisted is not premised on any particular view of sexual orientation and can be used by therapists of any ideological persuasion. Its goal, he said, is not to change sexual orientation, but to heal trauma and sexual addiction—but a change in same-sex attractions may sometimes result when the protocol is followed. 

Two films were also screened at the conference. One, Voices of the Silenced, is an international effort produced by British expert Michael Davidson. It features personal testimonies from clients as well as from experts about the potential for sexual orientation change, while also placing the issue in a larger cultural and historical context, noting how the sexual revolution represents an effort to undo the advances made by Judeo-Christian culture and return to the pagan worldview of ancient Greece and Rome. The other, Free to Love (a 38-minute documentary that can be viewed free online), presents an overview of the debate over SOCE in the American context, and includes interviews with four ex-gay men as well as the views of attendees at a Gay Pride event.

Although geared largely for therapists, the Alliance conference is an important event every year for public education and networking as well. With the freedom to seek change ever more under attack, the Alliance is a vital ally in promoting the truth and protecting clients’ rights to self-determination.

The Unity of Body and Soul: Why It Matters

by Caleb Sutherlin

October 4, 2018

Many of the most pressing issues in our society come from a lack of love for the body. On October 3rd, Nancy Pearcey visited Family Research Council to discuss her new book, Love Thy Body: Answering Hard Questions about Life and Sexuality. In her talk, Pearcey tackled difficult aspects of human sexuality that seem independent but are really part of the same ideology.

In Old Testament Hebrew, the word for the “soul” is nephesh, and the New Testament uses the Greek word psyche (pronounced “sue-kay”). These words are used to encompass the whole person. That includes the emotions, the spirit, and the physical being. These elements are immutable and can never be reduced or separated from each other. Today’s liberal ideology seeks to do just that. Pearcey, a renowned apologist, explores the attempt by many on the Left to rewrite the person by ignoring biology and logic.    

While researching her book, she recalled an article in which a pro-choice woman became pregnant. The woman said that she considered the life inside her a baby because she wanted it, but if she didn’t want it, she and those who share her worldview considered it a clump of cells. Seeing the contradiction, the woman decided that life begins at conception, but still questioned the personhood of that life.

The current cultural movement that seeks to redefine personhood is the topic of Love Thy Body. Pearcey observes that this movement is attempting to argue that a human life is separate from being a person. Therefore, a human can be killed, but a person cannot. Pearcey aptly notes that according to this philosophy, the fetus must earn the right to life by being chosen to live by the mother. Furthermore, the body is relegated to being disposable. Simply being human is not enough to justify having human rights. (Therefore, unborn children who are aborted can have their body parts harvested, and Terri Schiavo can be starved to death, according to this philosophy.)

Even bioethicists cannot decide on what constitutes a person. When biology is removed from humanity, anything is possible. Love Thy Body gives several examples of what can happen as a result. Some bioethicists even argue in favor of infanticide, saying that a certain level of cognitive function is needed to be a person. In that light, the elderly, or even those who are mentally handicapped might not qualify for life. As disgusting as that is, legitimate voices are arguing for it.

This disregard for the body is also present in the hookup culture. As Pearcey noted, many young women in college have given in to the dehumanizing campus sexual culture that encourages them to separate their natural desire for emotional intimacy and commitment from their physical sexuality.

Disrespecting the body puts the mind and body in conflict. That conflict can be seen in the fact that 80 percent of people that identify as homosexual will change their self-identification at least once in their lives. Love Thy Body takes a holistic view of the human person and points out the natural unity between the soul and the body. Instead of thinking of the body as a patchwork of contradictory pieces, the body and soul should be thought of as whole.

Perhaps most distressing in this ideology is the removal of pre-political rights. When the government embraces the discontinuity of the body, our human rights become a gift of the government instead of what we innately possess. Today, the government has claimed the right to decide when a person has the right to live by legalizing abortion and euthanasia.

Interestingly, a number of feminist groups are turning away from the idea that the body is meaningless. One cannot be an advocate of women’s rights and simultaneously believe that everyone can be a woman.

As Nancy Pearcey so eloquently reminds us, the only way to keep the rights of personhood fully intact is to base personhood in biology and Scripture. Be sure to view her entire talk for more on this critically consequential topic.

Caleb Sutherlin is an intern at Family Research Council.

An Answer to This Generation’s Identity Crisis: “Love Thy Body.”

by Patrina Mosley

October 2, 2018

At our annual Values Voter Summit last week, we hosted a student mixer that discussed the topic of gender identity and sexual orientation in this generation.

Tomorrow, we will have the opportunity to hear more on this subject from author Nancy Pearcey as she speaks at Family Research Council headquarters (register here to attend).

This topic comes in an age of transgenderism, LGBT discrimination laws, and national outcry over who gets to use which restroom—a time when gender is given to self-determination and may change daily. The nature of the sexual identity debate is often laced with animus and confusion and has profound implications for people as well as policies that will affect every citizen.

The Economist recently reported a flood of adolescent girls seeking treatment for gender dysphoria over the last eight years. In 2009, 41 percent of teens going to gender clinics in the U.K. were female. By 2017, that number jumped to nearly 70 percent.

Today, we are seeing gender confusion and gender dysphoria become more common among this generation, especially as many young people have taken up androgynous identities to be hip, cool, or in fashion. They have embraced the exploration of their sexuality to the point of denying truth. While the political Left exploits our youth to gain political points, the real heart of the matter is the philosophical attempt to erase God’s fingerprint on the design of mankind. One of the unique fingerprints of God our Creator is science. Our biological makeup speaks a truth louder than words—down to our XX and XY chromosomes. Researchers have identified over six thousand genes that are expressed differently in men and women.

In Nancy Pearcey’s new book, Love Thy Body: Answering Hard Questions about Life and Sexuality, she says:

The implication is that the physical structure of our bodies reveals clues to our personal identity. The way our bodies function provides rational grounds for our moral decisions. That’s why, as we will see, a Christian ethic always takes into account the facts of biology, whether addressing abortion (the scientific facts about when life begins) or sexuality (the facts about sexual differentiation and reproduction). A Christian ethic respects the teleology of nature in the body.

This is called a teleological view of nature, based on the Greek word telos, which means “purpose” or “goal.” It is evident that living things are structured for a purpose. Romans 1:20 says, “[f]or since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and the divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made … .”

If any of this interests you, please join us tomorrow and listen to Nancy Pearcey as she answers hard questions on life and sexuality from her new book, Love Thy Body.

To attend tomorrow’s event, register here!

The Image of God and the Pursuit of Truth in the Kavanaugh Hearing

by David Closson

October 1, 2018

On September 27, Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and Dr. Christine Blasey Ford testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee regarding allegations of sexual assault from their time in high school.

During her testimony, Dr. Ford told senators that she feared for her life as an assailant she identified as Brett Kavanaugh assaulted her. Although she confessed to not knowing exactly when or where the incident took place, she said she was convinced Kavanagh was the perpetrator. Many viewers around the country found Ford’s story compelling and credible.

Hours later, Judge Kavanaugh forcefully denied any wrongdoing, and described the allegations against him as “vicious and false.” He vowed that “any kind of investigation, Senate, FBI, Montgomery County Police, whatever, will clear me.” Just as with Dr. Ford’s words, millions were moved by Kavanaugh’s powerful and heart-wrenching testimony.

At the end of the all-day hearing, the consensus from pundits across the political spectrum was that although both Ford and Kavanaugh gave strong testimonies, the facts surrounding the case are unchanged and the allegations remain uncorroborated.

Although Republicans preferred to move ahead Friday toward a confirmation vote, last minute discussions involving Senator Jeff Flake resulted in Republicans joining Democrats in postponing the vote for an additional week to allow for a supplemental FBI investigation concerning the claims raised by Dr. Ford. The investigation was approved by President Trump on Friday afternoon. 

While the political calculations surrounding Judge Kavanaugh’s hearing are complex, there are two important truths that Christian observers cannot afford to forget as they consider these latest developments: man’s creation in God’s image and the objective nature of truth.

1. Everyone is made in the image of God

Whoever you find more credible—whether Dr. Ford or Judge Kavanaugh—it is important to remember what the Bible teaches about human dignity. Although theologians debate the exact meaning of what it means to be made in the image of God, at the very least it means that man represents God to the rest of creation in a unique way. Consequently, every human being is an image bearer of God and maintains inherent dignity.

Therefore, it is impermissible for Christians to dismiss, demean, or degrade another person. This is true even when strong political disagreements exist. Our common human nature provides a basis for recognizing the value and dignity of everyone, including our political opponents. Further, Christians should rank first in showing empathy and concern for vulnerable women (James 1:27). Thus, disparaging comments directed toward Dr. Ford are inappropriate and morally repugnant. As was evident from her testimony, she is still affected by a traumatic event from her past. Christian observers should follow the lead of Republican and Democrat Senators who treated Dr. Ford with great dignity and respect.

In short, reclaiming a biblical understanding of the imago dei would go a long way in reclaiming the current disheartening state of the nation’s civil discourse. Christians should lead the way in restoring civility by recognizing and honoring everyone’s dignity.

2. Truth is an objective reality

Another truth Christians must reclaim is the notion of objective truth.

While questioning Judge Kavanaugh, Senator Cory Booker used a phrase that likely escaped the notice of many observers. Booker referred to Dr. Ford’s allegation of sexual assault as “her truth” three separate times. 

Although Senator Booker likely did not intend for anyone to read too deeply into his words, it is nonetheless important to note that there is no such thing as “her truth” or “his truth;” ultimately, there is only the truth.

Regardless of political affiliation, the discovery of truth—the exact nature of what happened thirty-six years ago with Judge Kavanaugh and Dr. Ford—ought to be everyone’s goal, especially Christians who believe in the reality of objective truth.

Therefore, although many Kavanaugh supporters are frustrated that President Trump and GOP leadership agreed to a week’s delay in the confirmation process for an FBI investigation, if Democrats are operating in good faith—a reasonable question given the process in which the allegations were held and subsequently leaked— then the accumulation of more evidence and testimony will vindicate Judge Kavanaugh rather than sink his nomination.

Christians should pray for a quick and thorough investigation with the result that the truth comes to light.

Five Myths About “Gender Identity”

by Peter Sprigg

September 19, 2018

Adapted from remarks by Peter Sprigg, Senior Fellow for Policy Studies, Family Research Council

to World Congress of Families – Chisinau, Moldova

(Panel Discussion on “Gender Ideology—The Latest Attack on the Family and the Legal Challenges It Poses”)

Friday, September 14, 2018

 

Good afternoon.

I want to share with you today five myths about “gender identity.”

These are five things that are believed and taught by transgender activists, which simply are not true.

1. If the mind is in conflict with the body, the mind is right.

This is the most fundamental belief of the transgender movement. If a person is biologically male, but that person feels or believes that he is a woman, then he is female. And if a biological female believes she is male, then she is male.

But why should anyone believe that?

Contrary to the claims of the transgender activists, this belief is not “scientific.” In fact, since science deals with an examination of the physical world, the rejection of the physical body is anti-scientific.

The belief that the mind is right and the body wrong when they conflict is a philosophical—almost a religious—viewpoint. It has nothing to do with science.

It is bad enough when adults are deceived in this way—but it is tragic when it happens to children. Certainly, some children, even from a very young age, engage in behaviors that do not conform to the typical expectations for their sex.

However, myth number two is:

2. Gender non-conforming children will always grow up to be transgender adults.

Actually, there is much evidence that the vast majority of such children, if left to themselves, eventually accept their biological sex. According to the American Psychiatric Association, anywhere from 70 to 97.8 percent of gender non-conforming boys, and 50 to 88 percent of gender non-conforming girls, will not become transgender. However, if they are encouraged by adults to make a social transition, and they receive hormones that prevent normal puberty from occurring, they may be locked in to a path that leads to great suffering.

3. Gender transition (hormones and surgery) is “medically necessary.”

This is the claim that transgender activists make in order to justify forcing government health programs and private health insurance companies to pay for these expensive procedures.

This claim has everything to do with money, and nothing to do with medicine.

The vast majority of people who identify as transgender are physically normal, physically healthy people. Hormones and surgery do not help their bodies work better—instead, they destroy healthy body systems and healthy body parts.

The claim is that hormones and surgery are “necessary” to improve the mental health of transgender people, not their physical health. Has evidence proven this? No.

In 2016, the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, which oversees two of the largest federal health care programs, refused to order routine coverage for gender reassignment surgery. They said:

  • [T]here is not enough high quality evidence to determine whether gender reassignment surgery improves health outcomes.”
  • Overall, the quality and strength of evidence were low.”
  • The four best studies “did not demonstrate clinically significant changes” for the better.

One of the best studies, out of Sweden, showed the following about patients after they had gender reassignment surgery. Compared to the general Swedish population, they were:

  • 2.8 times as likely to have died of any causes;
  • 2.8 times as likely to have a psychiatric hospitalization;
  • 4.9 times as likely to attempt suicide;
  • 19.1 times as likely to die by suicide.

This sounds medically dangerous—not “medically necessary.”

4. “Gender identity” discrimination is a form of “sex discrimination.”

In the United States, the majority of states have not added “gender identity” as a protected category in laws against discrimination, nor has the U.S. Congress.

Therefore, transgender activists have begun urging courts to interpret laws against “sex discrimination” to include “gender identity.” Since our federal law against sex discrimination in employment and in education were passed in 1964 and in 1972, it is unlikely that legislators intended “sex” to mean anything other than being biologically male or female.

A 1989 U.S. Supreme Court decision included a passing comment that “gender stereotyping”—for example, telling a woman she is not feminine enough—could be a form of “sex discrimination.” But even that case does not stand for the proposition that a man can become a woman, or a woman can become a man.

5. The transgender movement is a progressive movement.

This may be the most surprising for me to list as a “myth.”

Although we speak about the “LGBT movement,” there are many “LG”—self-identified lesbians and gays—who are concerned about the “T” (those who identify as transgender). They are not happy that masculine girls and feminine boys—who at one time might have grown up to identify as lesbians or as gay men—are now being told that they are actually the opposite sex.

Meanwhile, some feminists point out that transgender activists often are not trying to overcome gender stereotypes. Instead, they are trying to conform to rigid stereotypes—but of the opposite sex.

It would seem more “progressive” to simply say that there are different ways to be a boy or a man, and different ways to be a girl or a woman—and none of them require changing your gender or mutilating your body.

Thank you.

The Department of Veterans Affairs Should Not Fund “Gender Alterations”

by Family Research Council

September 13, 2018

Family Research Council has submitted public comments urging the Department of Veterans Affairs to retain a regulation that prohibits “gender alterations” (hormone therapy and gender reassignment surgery) from being funded by taxpayers as part of the VA’s medical benefits package.

The VA had received a “Petition for Rulemaking” from transgender activists urging that it lift the restriction, which is found in 38 CFR 17.38(c)(4).

The comment, written by FRC Senior Fellow for Policy Studies Peter Sprigg, said that the cost of these procedures would be exorbitant, and there is no convincing scientific evidence that they are effective in improving mental health or reducing suicide rates among those who undergo them.

A synopsis of the comments stated:

VA benefits should be aimed at the direst, most life-threatening needs first.  They should not go to surgery on physically healthy individuals who elect to alter their physically healthy bodies.

In 2016, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) issued a memo declining to issue a National Coverage Determination (NCD) mandating coverage for gender reassignment surgery. They declared that “there is not enough high quality evidence to determine whether gender reassignment surgery improves health outcomes.” What CMS was unwilling to do for Medicare recipients, the VA should not be doing for recipients of VA medical benefits.

Advocates for taxpayer funding of medical gender transition claim that it will reduce the mental health problems and risk of suicide that are known to exist at higher levels among those who identify as transgender. However, one of the strongest studies ever done on the subject, a 2011 study out of Sweden (Dhejne et al., PLoS ONE) did not support such a conclusion. The CMS memo stated:

The study identified increased mortality and psychiatric hospitalization compared to the matched controls. The mortality was primarily due to completed suicides (19.1-fold greater than in control Swedes), but death due to neoplasm and cardiovascular disease was increased 2 to 2.5 times as well… . The risk for psychiatric hospitalization was 2.8 times greater than in controls even after adjustment for prior psychiatric disease (18%).

Finally, the exorbitant cost of these procedures can hardly be justified for so little benefit. Data from the Philadelphia Center for Transgender Surgery suggests that a comprehensive package of male-to-female surgical procedures would cost $110,450, and female-to-male procedures would cost $89,050. That’s not to mention hormone treatment, which is required indefinitely and can cost as much as $200 a month.

The Catholic Church in Crisis: Two Takeaways

by Daniel Hart

September 10, 2018

Over the last several months and up to today, revelations continue to come out about the cover-up of sexual abuse among the clergy in the Catholic Church, which has now credibly extended to the Church’s highest levels. As a Catholic, I find myself heartbroken for those who have experienced sexual abuse at the hands of the very men whom they trusted the most. I also find myself angry that the very men who have spent so much of their lives studying and preaching about the teachings of Christ could be the ones who would leverage their status as priests and bishops to prey upon the trust of their flock.

Nevertheless, here we are. It is undoubtedly a grace from God that all of these fetid revelations are now seeing the light of day so that the Church hierarchy can at long last begin to clean house, something that is decades overdue, and of which the lay faithful in the Church must hold the clergy accountable as best they can.

At this point, the temptation for those of us who feel powerless to do anything to help right these terrible wrongs is to get bogged down in the minutiae of the all the accusations, denials, and rumors. While it is important that we stay as wise as serpents in the ways of the world, it is equally important to remain as innocent as doves (Matthew 10:16). Therefore, here are two essential points to keep our current moment in perspective so that we avoid becoming embittered and help to bring good out of even the most dire of circumstances, which is what all Christians are called to do.

1. Sin Is Real and Has Real Consequences

Scripture tells us that even the early church struggled with the sexual immorality of the wider culture (see 1 Corinthians 5, among others). It seems that this tendency has only increased in modern times. At least since the Sexual Revolution in the 1960’s (if not earlier), it has become abundantly clear that the Christian church, no matter what denomination or tradition, has been particularly susceptible to being influenced by the wider culture’s view of sex. The Sexual Revolution’s chief export, which has taken root so overwhelmingly in our modern culture, is this: that the primary purpose of sex is for pleasure, which every person has an absolute right to no matter what their age or state in life happens to be.

The wider Christian church has steadily ceded ground and influence in their opposition to this idea for the past several decades, the reasons for which are numerous and cannot be fully explored here. What’s important to realize is that God’s teaching about sex has been and always will be abundantly clear. It is summed up in the Sixth Commandment: “You shall not commit adultery” (Exodus 20:14). Here is an excellent summation of the proper meaning of this commandment through the Bible’s authority:

The [Christian teaching on sexuality] is also set forth in many other clearly worded texts from the Scriptures that forbid homosexual acts, adultery, fornication and other lewd conduct: Ephesians 5:5-7; Galatians 5:16-21; Revelation 21:5-8; Revelation 22:14-16; Matthew 15:19-20; Matthew 5:27-30; 1 Corinthians 6:9-20; Colossians 3:5-6; 1 Thessalonians 4:1-8; 1 Timothy 1:8-11; Hebrews 13:4; Leviticus 18:22; Leviticus 20:13; Genesis 19; Romans 1:1-18, and 1 Timothy 1:8-11, among others.

The Sixth Commandment is clear — there is a universal call to chastity, and no one is exempt. There is simply no provision for sexual intercourse or sexual touching outside of valid marriage, and those who are married live chastity by complete fidelity to one another. No one is ever permitted under any circumstances to engage in sexual acts with anyone to whom they are not validly married. There are no separate rules for heterosexuals or homosexuals. There is to be no sexual intercourse or touching outside of valid marriage.

I think it can be safely said that this is the most broken and least understood commandment and principle in Christianity, even among Christians. Just one sad example of this is the pervasiveness of pornography. It is no secret that pornography use is the number one sin confessed to Catholic priests and is also widespread in evangelical churches.

The Sexual Revolution proved to be extremely successful at convincing much of society that it is okay to separate the sexual act from the confines of marriage. Once this was done, the floodgates opened. Sex outside of marriage is so culturally accepted that it is now considered a right of passage. The natural outgrowth of this line of reasoning could not be more clear: if unmarried people can have sex, who’s to say it has to be with someone of the opposite sex? What’s wrong with watching people do it on the internet? And so on and so on.

This viewpoint is very convincing to the human psyche for the simple reason that sex is in fact very pleasurable in a unique and powerful way. “How can pleasure be sinful?” the culture asks. Perhaps the easiest way to answer this is to simply point out the current state of our sexual culture—awash in the #MeToo moment. When the fire of human sexuality is not harnessed within the prism of commitment and mutual self-sacrifice, the inevitable result is wildfire, in which people use and abuse each other.

Our culture, along with a troubling segment of the Catholic Church’s clergy, has lost its sense of sexual sin. Perhaps the current devastation that all of this sin has caused will once again awaken a sense of sexual sin and its consequences. First, truly repentant sorrow and reparations must be expressed. Secondly, prayer, self-discipline, and the hard but infinitely fulfilling work of staying faithful to God’s teachings must be taken up with renewed hope and purpose.

2. “From Everyone Who Has Been Given Much, Much Will Be Required” (Luke 12:48)

A cursory review of human history reveals that we humans love power. We often long for it because we think that once we gain power and have more control, we can finally get what we want, and then we will be happy. But God has a far different purpose for power. Christ Himself specifically addresses the proper attitude we should have toward earthly power when He is brought before Pontius Pilate (who had the very powerful position as the prefect of the Roman province of Judaea at the time): “You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above” (John 19:11).

Christ’s lesson here is clear: Nothing we have gained on earth is because of our own efforts. Everything that we have is a gift from God.

This is a hard lesson that all of those who have positions of power and authority must take to heart. They must humbly accept the power that has been bestowed upon them and use it for the greater good of their fellow man, resisting the urge to use it for their own pleasure or personal gain.

As we have seen in recent weeks, this vital teaching from God has been tragically and systematically abused by the very men that God bestowed power and authority to within the Catholic Church—not only through priests who perpetrated the sickening sexual abuse of children, parishioners, and seminarians who held their trust, but also in bishops who used their authority to perpetrate the cover-up of abusive priests under their jurisdiction. We have also seen a pattern of abuse of power in other Christian churches, showing that no earthly hierarchical system is immune to sin.

Indeed, the proper way to view power is to observe the life of Jesus and how he used his power. There couldn’t possibly be anyone more powerful than Jesus—He was God Incarnate. Yet, how did He use His power? In complete self-sacrifice. Those who witnessed His crucifixion were in fact dumbfounded that He did not use His power to save Himself, and derided Him for it: “You who are going to destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, Come down from the cross and save yourself!” (Mark 15:30)

It’s a perfect illustration of how God’s ways are often not man’s ways (Isaiah 55:8). But Christ continually calls us to strive for more than the tired habits of our fallen nature: “Be perfect, as your Heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:48). Christ, then, is the ultimate model for how we should use power—as servant leaders in service of others.

What We Are Called to Do

So what can the Christian faithful do who do not hold positions of authority within their churches to help their leaders stay faithful? It can be tempting to throw up our hands in resignation, claiming that we have no responsibility for what goes on in the hierarchy.

Don’t give in to this temptation. First and foremost, believers are called to live out God’s commandments in their own lives so as to be salt and light on the earth (Matthew 5:13-16), testifying to the reality of sin and its consequences when we are called to. Just as importantly, ordinary believers can and must make their voices heard when institutional change is needed, by writing letters to church authorities, starting petitions, and even holding peaceful public protests if the situation calls for it.

Let’s remember in this time of crisis that no person is an island, especially bishops, priests, and pastors, the great majority of whom are not involved in the sexual abuse of others. All of us, no matter what earthly position we do or do not hold, need the support of our brothers and sisters in Christ to get through difficult times. Let’s begin a great renewal of our churches in Christ, who makes all things new (Revelation 21:5).

Forced Use of False Pronouns Kills Faith and Freedom

by Cathy Ruse

August 30, 2018

I highly recommend Abigail Shrier’s piece in The Wall Street Journal today, “The Transgender Language War.

Her lede likens Fairfax County school bureaucrats to “Orwellian” bullies. That is gratifying to this Fairfax mom who has stood shoulder-to-shoulder with other moms and dads against this corrupt school board.

And her overall critique of the centerpiece of the Transgender Movement is spot on.

Forcing kids (and adults) to use certain words—in this case, to use the wrong pronoun for the sex of someone else—is forcing them to declare a creed they don’t believe in and to embrace an opinion they disagree with. How is this not government-mandated religion and thought?

On religion, Shrier writes:  

For those with a religious conviction that sex is both biological and binary, God’s purposeful creation, denial of this involves sacrilege no less than bowing to idols in the town square. When the state compels such denial among religious people, it clobbers the Constitution’s guarantee of free exercise of religion, lending government power to a contemporary variant on forced conversion.

On freedom of thought and speech:

But individuals need not be religious to believe that one person can never be a “they”; compelled speech is no less unconstitutional for those who refuse an utterance based on a different viewpoint, as the Supreme Court held in West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette (1943). Upholding students’ right to refuse to salute an American flag even on nonreligious grounds, Justice Robert H. Jackson declared: “If there is any fixed star in our constitutional constellation, it is that no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, religion or other matters of opinion or force citizens to confess by word or act their faith therein.” This is precisely what forced reference to someone else as “ze,” “sie,” “hir,” “co,” “ev,” “xe,” “thon” or “they” entails. When the state employs coercive power to compel an utterance, what might otherwise be a courtesy quickly becomes a plank walk.

New CDC Numbers Show the Sexual Revolution Keeps Making Things Worse

by Cathy Ruse

August 29, 2018

Fire departments nationwide are going on far fewer fire calls as home fires have declined dramatically over the years. Why? Builders use better flame-resistant materials, and people have better smoke detectors and sprinklers. 

Cigarette smoking has been declining for years, and the motor vehicle fatality rate has been steadily decreasing since 1921. 

This is called progress. And you can see it all around you.

But the sexual revolution just keeps making things worse.

The New York Times reported yesterday that more Americans are suffering from sexually-transmitted diseases than ever before. Every year for the last four years, more and more people have become infected with chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis, according to new data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and in 2017 the number of new diagnosed cases rose to 2.3 million.

Chlamydia and gonorrhea often lurk without symptoms,” said the report. Dr. Gail Bolan of the CDC warns that people are unwittingly spreading the disease “silently through the country.”

What’s worse, gonorrhea is becoming a sex superbug. It has become resistant to several antibiotics, and CDC officials predict it will become resistant to the last remaining antibiotic now being used to fight it. Dr. Bolan says it’s urgent for drug makers to develop new antibiotics to treat it.

These are painful diseases—they can cause severe damage to the reproductive system, and in some cases even death. 

And who is it that is suffering? Almost two-thirds of the new chlamydia infections are among youth 15-24 years old. Gonorrhea is now “very common” among young people 15-24 years old. 

It is our children who are suffering. Mere teens. Boys and girls who should be brimming with youth and vitality and health. It is their bodies that are being riddled by disease.

And what are we adults doing about it?

We are calling on drug makers to develop new drugs to give to all of the once-healthy teens who will get infected with sex superbugs.

We are teaching “consent for sex” in public schools in younger and younger grades, which will only cause the demographic of sick children to start at 13 instead of 15.

What we are not doing is helping them find the path that leads not only to health but to happiness: Saving sex for marriage, and then being faithful to your spouse.

The sexual revolutionaries call that offensive. Suffer the children. Ideology above all.

Update on California’s AB 2943: Therapy Ban Assaulting Freedom of Speech and Religion Passes Senate

by Peter Sprigg

August 17, 2018

Here are some quick facts on the most recent action regarding California’s alarming bill, AB 2943, with links to sources:

  • The California Senate just passed AB 2943 on August 16.
  • AB 2943 is Round Two of California’s attack upon sexual orientation change efforts (SOCE).
  • AB 2943 is so sweeping it could potentially ban the sale of some books—even the Bible.
  • Therapy bans restrict what therapists can say to clients. The Supreme Court has signaled that this violates constitutional rights to free speech.
  • Ironically, AB 2943 was passed even as a new study has debunked claims that SOCE is ineffective and harmful
  • Most clients who seek SOCE just want to live their lives according to the teachings of their faith, so bills like AB 2943 are an attack upon their freedom of religion.
  • The Assembly or Gov. Brown have a last chance to block enactment of AB 2943. Urge them to do so now.
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