Tag archives: Human Sexuality

Speaking the Truth in Love: How The Bachelorette Got It Both Wrong and Right

by Laura Grossberndt

August 8, 2019

Is it ever okay for a Christian to question or “judge” the behavior of another person, particularly if that person also professes to be a Christian? ABC’s wildly popular reality dating show The Bachelorette, which wrapped up its 15th season last week, served as an unconventional and unexpected proving ground for this deeply theological question.

This season’s star of The Bachelorette, Hannah Brown, openly describes herself as a follower of Jesus and a woman of faith. One of her suitors, Luke Parker, is also a professing Christian. In the season premiere, Luke described the moment he decided to put his faith in Jesus and make a lifestyle change which included abstaining from sex until marriage. Luke quickly emerged as a frontrunner for the coveted “final rose” and Hannah’s love—and their seemingly shared faith was a primary reason.

The would-be couple’s budding relationship quickly turned turbulent, however, as Luke was constantly at odds with the other men seeking Hannah’s favor. But Luke’s sometimes imprudent behavior and immature reactions to interpersonal conflict were just precursors to the season’s most explosive drama: a highly-charged conversation concerning premarital sex.

We Can’t Have Grace Without Repentance

Luke wanted a verbal confirmation from Hannah that they were on the same page about saving sex for marriage. He tells Hannah that he would remove himself from the competition if she (hypothetically) were to reveal to him that she had been sexually intimate with another man on the show. Hannah then says that she has had sex with another one of her suitors, and while “sex might be a sin out of marriage,” she is confident Jesus loves her despite it.

Hannah compares Luke’s desire to end their relationship to the famous John 8 account of the woman caught in adultery. Hannah views Luke’s disapproval of her actions as him holding a metaphorical stone in front of her face. In her opinion, Luke’s sin of pride precludes him from objecting to her behavior.

Is Hannah right?

For context’s sake, here are some key takeaways from John’s account of the woman caught in adultery (John 8:2-11):

  • Jesus shone a light on the sinful nature of all those involved.
  • Jesus is the only one without sin.
  • Jesus did not condemn the woman caught in adultery.
  • Jesus forgave the woman and instructed her to go and sin no more.

The woman caught in adultery committed sexual sin; and yes, Jesus still loved her. While Jesus, by virtue of his sinlessness, had the right to condemn sin, He does something unexpected, yet in keeping with His mission to fulfill the law. He extends grace (“neither do I condemn you”) while also instructing her to repent and change (“go and sin no more”).

Many want the grace Jesus offers without the repentance. But we cannot have one without the other. Receiving God’s grace is inextricably tied to repentance.

Avoiding Hypocritical Judgment

Can a Christian call another Christian to account for their sin? Was Luke wrong to find fault in Hannah’s actions?

In Matthew 7, Jesus warns his followers against judging others while simultaneously ignoring their own sin, because “with the measure you use it will be measured to you.”

Does that mean Christians can never judge the actions and behavior of others? No. The Apostle Paul tells the Corinthians to judge those within the church and refuse them the status of “brother” if they continue in patterns of unrepentant sin:

I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people—not at all meaning the sexually immoral of this world, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one. For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? God judges those outside. “Purge the evil person from among you.” (1 Corinthians 5:9-13)

Speaking the Truth in Love

The act of a Christian calling another Christian to account for their sin can be a loving one, provided it is done out of a desire to help the other Christian toward righteousness, and that it is done with tenderness and humility, recognizing one’s own sinfulness and need for God’s forgiveness.

Christians (“little Christs”) get our name because we are called to follow the example of Jesus. We are called to forgive one another and pursue holiness in our personal and corporate life. It is easy to emphasize one to the neglect of the other. However, to faithfully follow Christ, we need to be walking in both forgiveness and repentance. Extending forgiveness without requiring repentance leaves someone still under the curse of sin, while repentance that is not accompanied by forgiveness is antithetical to the gospel’s offer of reconciliation with God.

Hannah and Luke’s conversation in the late stages of the show reveals they were not as likeminded on sex and theology as they initially thought. A lot of pain and heartache could have been avoided if this conversation had taken place much earlier in their relationship. Whether one is a professing Christian or not, if you have radically different opinions on sex than the person you are dating, you should not be dating them. Those irreconcilable differences will inevitably cause problems down the road.

However, in addition to their disagreements about sexual intimacy, Hannah and Luke also displayed different, improper, and inadequate reactions to sin. Hannah demonstrated lack of remorse for the actions Jesus tenderly warns against. While Luke is justified for wanting to be on the same page about sexual intimacy as his potential future spouse, his manner of approaching the topic needed more Christ-like humility and discernment. Scripture speaks to both improper perspectives:

Do not rebuke an older man but encourage him as you would a father, younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, younger women as sisters, in all purity. (1 Timothy 5:1-2)

[S]peaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ … [L]let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another. Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil. … Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. (Ephesians 4:15, 25-27, 31-32)

Wisdom says a reality dating show such as The Bachelor or The Bachelorette is not the ideal environment for Christians to find a spouse. The concept of dating multiple people at one time, while being cut off from the fellowship and counsel of friends, family, and church community for several weeks, is not a recipe for righteous living or lasting love (Proverbs 18:1, Hebrews 10:24-25).

But while it may be unwise, that does not mean that those appearing on the show who profess to be Christians are not sincere in their profession. While I do not know either Hannah or Luke personally, I wish nothing but the best for them and hope this experience will drive them closer to God and to a better understanding of sin, the gospel, true love, and compassion in Jesus Christ.

This season’s viewers of The Bachelorette probably did not expect to encounter conversations about sin and the nature of God’s forgiveness. However, the contestants are real-life people wrestling with real-life problems, and it is only natural for two people contemplating marriage to want to agree on matters as weighty as theology and sex. Unfortunately, the seriousness of sin and its consequences was minimized, while the love and forgiveness of the gospel was inadequately conveyed. Despite what The Bachelorette may have led its audience to believe, Christians are right to judge the behavior of other Christians, provided we do so out of Christ-like compassion, speaking the truth in love.

Laura Grossberndt is on staff at Family Research Council.

Engaging a Culture in Crisis: Christians Gather to Discuss Strategies

by Cathy Ruse

July 30, 2019

Two hundred Catholics gathered for a two-day conference last weekend high in the hills above La Crosse, Wisconsin. Organized by Cardinal Raymond Burke, former Chief Justice of the Vatican Supreme Court. Cardinal Burke is one of the most important bishops in the Catholic Church and is seen by millions of Catholics as the torchbearer of Christian orthodoxy in what can be a very confusing time. The conference took place at a remarkable hilltop complex dedicated to Mary that includes a shrine to unborn children lost to abortion and miscarriage.

The conference heard from noted experts on the cultural and religious crisis of our time. Robert Royal, author of many books, editor in chief of The Catholic Thing, president of the Faith & Reason Institute, and talking head on Eternal Word Television Network, told the crowd about the mass Christian conversion of Aztec Indians in the 16th century and how our own time calls for a similar conversion.

My husband, Austin Ruse, president of the Center for Family and Human Rights, exhorted the audience to consider that there is no finer time to be a faithful Christian than right now, not in spite of the massive problems around us but precisely because of them. He said the apostles were not exactly the “A Team,” and maybe neither are we. But God knows what He is about, and He sent the likes of us, right here, right now, to defend His creation.

I discussed the competing visions of the Christian Gospel and the “Transgender Gospel.”

The “gospel” of Transgender is hypocritical, mendacious, and deceptive. It wraps itself in the mantel of science, even while it scorns all science that does not further its political goals. Biology is bigotry, according to the transgender ideology.

It speaks of “safe environments,” then forces open the private spaces of women and girls to biological males, including predators.

It calls for “non-discrimination,” then discriminates against women and girls by robbing them of sports victories, scholarships, and careers—and exposing them to physical danger on the playing field.

It calls itself “progressive,” but acts like a retrogressive tyrant, especially when it comes to the freedom of speech.

And worst of all, it preaches “acceptance,” then tells kids to reject their own bodies, even to the point of mutilation.

Our duty, as Christians, is to tell the truth about the human person, no matter what. We must tell all who will listen that to deny our human nature is to reject our human dignity. It is ultimately to reject God.

It is the Tempter’s promise of freedom, but it leads only to degradation and enslavement.

One small but important way to tell the Truth is to use truthful language. We should always use the word “sex” when referring to the biological reality of the physical nature of male and female.

Don’t say “gender” when we mean sex. Stella Morabito has it absolutely right: “Gender is a poisoned and weaponized word that has been used to legally de-sex and thus dehumanize us all.” 

As Christians, we are uniquely qualified to make the case for the truth about the human person. Because we are not confused. We know there are not 58 genders, but two sexes. 

Only a post-Christian culture could be so vulnerable to this kind of deception. As G.K. Chesterton wrote: “The first effect of not believing in God is to believe in anything.”

Ours is a different creed. We believe in a loving Father who created us in His own image: male and female. We believe that every person is born in exactly the right body.

What a joy to be called to bring this life-affirming, life-saving message to our culture, right now.

Administration Must Avoid Obama Cultural Imperialism

by Peter Sprigg

July 29, 2019

The Obama administration was guilty of what some have called “cultural imperialism.” This included various efforts to force small, poor—and often socially conservative—countries to accept and codify the values of the West’s sexual revolution. Examples include pressure placed on the Dominican Republic to liberalize abortion laws (in violation of their own constitution), and the withholding of foreign aid from the desperately poor African country of Malawi in an effort to force liberalization of their laws on homosexual conduct.

Family Research Council spoke out against such policies at the time. Fortunately, the Trump administration has backed off from some of the worst of this cultural imperialism, such as that practiced at the United Nations. However, we are concerned that the administration’s “global campaign to decriminalize homosexuality”—endorsed in a tweet from the White House Twitter account on July 26—may represent a remnant of that same mentality.

There are some legitimate concerns about the treatment of people who self-identify as homosexual in some other countries. As we wrote when news of the “global campaign” was first reported in February:

Family Research Council vigorously opposes acts of violence against anyone because of their sexuality. According to NBC, there are eight countries which permit the death penalty for homosexuality—most of them also known as abusers of religious freedom and other rights, and supporters of terrorism. An end to those laws, and other physical punishments such as flogging, is a legitimate goal.

(In the past, there have been false reports that FRC supported a bill in Uganda that would have allowed the death penalty for certain homosexual acts. This has never been the case.) There may also be countries where governments turn a blind eye to extra-judicial violence against those who identify as homosexual. This, too, is unacceptable.

We endorsed the statement by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at his confirmation hearing, when he said, ““I deeply believe LGBTQ persons have every right that every other person has.”

However, the fact that LGBTQ-identified persons have every human right does not mean that engaging in homosexual conduct is itself a human right. As we stated in 2011, “No treaty or widely accepted international agreement has established homosexual conduct as a human right.” For example, homosexual conduct has known health risks, so foreign governments should be left free to take steps to discourage or deter such conduct.

Furthermore, any effort to force an “LGBT rights” agenda on other countries risks running afoul of other principles which actually have been well-established as international rights—namely, the rights of individual conscience and of religious liberty. Within the constraints imposed by well-established international law, all countries must be free to establish governments and legal codes based on their own moral values. These are often deeply rooted in religious tradition. What we have called “cultural imperialism” (which Pope Francis has called “ideological colonization”) must not be allowed to trump that sovereign right of each country.

As we wrote in February:

Let’s find common ground in calling for an end to all forms of physical violence against homosexuals — but refrain from imposing the values of the sexual revolution on the rest of the world.

Library Buries Photos of Kids Playing on Top of Drag Queens

by Cathy Ruse

July 23, 2019

Remember the shocking photos of adult men in drag, lying on the floor at a library, with toddlers crawling on top of them? Well, government officials in Multnomah County, Oregon hope you’ll forget about them and keep bringing your children to Drag Queen Story Hours.

Last October, St. John’s public library in Portland, Oregon, presented Anthony Hudson dressed as drag queen “Carla Rossi” in a program for 2 to 6-year-old children.

Afterwards, the Multnomah County Library District was so proud of its event that it shared several photographs of children playing on top of Mr. Hudson. The photos went viral, thanks to outraged moms on Facebook. Earlier this month, LifeSite News reported on the outrage.

Then the county took the photos down, without a word. They are no longer available on the county’s website, but LifeSite News has archived them.

Is it because they’re sorry? Nope. It’s because they got caught.

If they were sorry, they wouldn’t have scheduled more drag events in the library with Mr. Hudson. According to the Multnomah County website, he has been invited back for two events in September billed as “Clown Town” teen drag workshops. Mr. Hudson will once again dress as drag queen “Carla Rossi” and teach kids about the “many flavors” of drag.

Read more about the scandal and the cover-up at The Federalist and Activist Mommy.

Times Op-Ed Conflates “Sex” and “Gender” to Suit Transgender Purposes

by Peter Sprigg

July 19, 2019

A recent New York Times opinion piece by Julia Serano—one of ten commissioned by the Times from “the L.G.B.T.Q. community” for “Pride Month”—turns history upside down with only its second paragraph:

Opponents of transgender rights have increasingly worked to shift conversations and policy language away from gender and toward biological sex.

In reality, it is the supporters of “transgender rights,” not the opponents, who “have increasingly worked to shift conversations and policy language.” However, in this case, the effort has been to redefine the word “sex” to include “gender identity.”

Sex” Discrimination vs. “Gender Identity”

In the courts and legislatures, efforts to end discrimination on the basis of “sex” began over fifty years ago. Congress outlawed discrimination based on “sex” in employment in 1964, and in education in 1972.

In 1964 or 1972, there would have been no question, in the minds of lawmakers or anyone else, that these laws prevented discrimination against individuals for being biologically female or biologically male.

On the other hand, in the last 15 or 20 years there has been an effort to add “gender identity”—“a term that originated in the field of psychology,” as Serano acknowledges—as a protected category in non-discrimination laws, alongside the more traditional categories such as “race” and “sex.” However, these efforts have largely failed in the majority of states and at the federal level.

That failure has led to a shift in strategy by transgender activists. Instead of seeking to add “gender identity” as a new protected category, they have taken to arguing that transgender people are already protected by laws against discrimination based on “sex.”

The Trump administration has rejected this interpretation of the word “sex” in existing statutory law. That conclusion seems to be what has aroused Serano’s ire.

Serano, a male-to-female transgender person (that is, a biological male who identifies psychologically as female), also takes Family Research Council to task for its defense of the administration policy:

The Family Research Council, a conservative Christian activist group, recently published an article titled “Trump transgender policy is simple and scientific: ‘Sex’ means biological sex.”

Perhaps the use of the word “scientific” in that headline was part of what triggered Serano, a biologist, to declare that “these developments … offend me as a scientist.”

What science? Here’s what Serano points to:

… [S]ex also seems straightforward. Every person superficially appears either female or male. But once we look beneath the surface, things are far more complicated.

While there are tangible biological sex characteristics — chromosomes, reproductive organs, hormones and secondary sex characteristics — they do not always fit neatly into male or female classifications, or align with one another within the same individual, as is the case for intersex people.

Yet this argument fails for a simple reason—“intersex people” are not the same as “transgender” people. Ambiguities in some people’s biological sex have nothing to do with anomalies in some people’s psychological “gender identity.”

Science Says: Intersex is Not Transgender

Don’t take my word for it. Look to the American Psychiatric Association. In their Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), they define “sex” as:

Biological indication of male and female (understood in the context of reproductive capacity), such as sex chromosomes, gonads, sex hormones, and nonambiguous internal and external genitalia.

An “intersex condition” is also biological:

A condition in which individuals have conflicting or ambiguous biological indicators of sex.

 “Gender identity” is something quite different:

A category of social identity that refers to an individual’s identification as male, female or, occasionally, some category other than male or female.

The Intersex Society of North America explains the concept this way:

People who identify as transgender or transsexual are usually people who are born with typical male or female anatomies but feel as though they’ve been born into the “wrong body.” . . .

People who have intersex conditions have anatomy that is not considered typically male or female. Most people with intersex conditions come to medical attention because doctors or parents notice something unusual about their bodies. In contrast, people who are transgendered have an internal experience of gender identity that is different from most people. [emphasis in the original]

The National Center for Transgender Equality makes the same point, in their “Frequently Asked Questions about Transgender People”:

What’s the difference between being transgender and being intersex?

People sometimes confuse being transgender and being intersex. Intersex people have reproductive anatomy or genes that don’t fit typical definitions of male or female, which is often discovered at birth. Being transgender, meanwhile, has to do with your internal knowledge of your gender identity. A transgender person is usually born with a body and genes that match a typical male or female, but they know their gender identity to be different.

 . . .

While it’s possible to be both transgender and intersex, most transgender people aren’t intersex, and most intersex people aren’t transgender.

A piece on “debunking 10 intersex myths”—written by a “Black, queer, non-binary, intersex” author and published a year ago by the LGBT activist group GLAAD—stated:

Intersex people and transgender people are not the same thing. 

It also noted:

Not all intersex people identify as a part of the LGBTQIA community.

A glossary prepared for a National Geographic issue on the “Gender Revolution” in 2017—by the authors of The Teaching Transgender Toolkit—likewise defined gender identity:

A person’s deep-seated, internal sense of who they are as a gendered being; the gender with which they identify themselves.

Intersex, on the other hand, was defined this way:

An umbrella term that describes a person with a genetic, genital, reproductive, or hormonal configuration that does not fit typical binary notions of a male or female body. Intersex is frequently confused with transgender, but the two are completely distinct.

(Unfortunately, even that glossary did not prevent the author of another article in the same issue—as well as Katie Couric, host of a NatGeo TV special on the issue—from wrongly conflating intersex and transgender.)

Simple Truth

Serano’s critique of the FRC piece concludes:

The article not only ignores current thinking in the field of biology, but it also falsely implies that science yields simple answers. History shows otherwise, as scientific research has repeatedly revealed nature to be far more diverse and complex than we initially believed.

Yet the article on “current thinking” to which Serano linked also deals with biological intersex conditions—not psychological transgender ones. The fact that the biology of sex is “diverse and complex” (as with intersex conditions) does not change the simple scientific truth—made clear by the expert definitions above—that “sex” is a biological concept.

Nor does it change the simple legal truth that the word “sex” in non-discrimination law refers to biology, not to the entirely psychological concept of “gender identity.”

I agree wholeheartedly with Serano’s conclusion:

Those who now invoke science in support of their biases and prejudices do it a grave disservice, and science-minded people everywhere must speak out against it.

Unfortunately, Serano is the one guilty of this “grave disservice.”

Joseph Nicolosi on the Deep Need for Fatherly Affirmation

by Peter Sprigg

July 16, 2019

I wrote yesterday about Amazon removing listings for a number of books about sexual orientation change efforts (SOCE), sometimes referred to by critics as “conversion therapy.” A particular target for Rojo Alan (the British LGBT activist who claimed credit for the change) and for other critics were the works of the late Dr. Joseph Nicolosi. He coined the term “reparative therapy” to describe his psychoanalytic approach to sexual orientation change. I have two of the books by Dr. Nicolosi that Amazon has banned in my library. While I have not read either cover to cover, I have read enough to know that they directly contradict some of what critics say about them. The two books are:

  • Joseph Nicolosi, Reparative Therapy of Male Homosexuality: A New Clinical Approach (Northvale, N.J.: Jason Aronson, Inc. 1997)
  • Joseph Nicolosi, Ph.D., & Linda Ames Nicolosi, A Parent’s Guide to Preventing Homosexuality (Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 2002)

One criticism of Nicolosi in particular stood out. Rojo Alan told the GayStarNews, “The books went into ways in which you can mentally and physically abuse your child.”

Really?

Here are some of the actual recommendations and observations in Nicolosi’s Parent’s Guide:

  • Use “positive and affirming strategies.” (p. 15)
  • The “at-risk boy needs (but does not get) particular affirmation from parents and peers.” (p. 22)
  • [To a father:] “Just be there for Stevie emotionally. Maintain a warm, loving relationship with him and don’t let him pull away.” (p. 29)
  •  “I told Bill that Stevie did not really need therapy. ‘He needs his dad.’” (p. 30)
  • (A father must) “do the little things—the everyday, caring, and loving things” (p. 31).
  • Boys “need from their dads what we reparative therapists call ‘the three A’s’: affection, attention, and approval.” (p. 50)
  •  [Quoting another expert:] “Anything that parents can do to make their kids feel proud of their identity—as young men, as young women—will help the [treatment] process” (p. 154).

Nicolosi’s own work focused primarily on men, but his Parent’s Guide included a chapter on girls as well. It includes these points:

  • For girls, “there should be a warm mother-daughter intimacy … . Indeed, a healthy relationship with Mom provides the most important foundation …” (p. 156)
  • The father of a daughter “provides love and positive regard so that the girl will feel worthy of another man’s love.” (p. 157)
  • When a girl has been found to be involved in a lesbian relationship, the parents will probably be focused on stopping their daughter’s sexual behavior. But the girl herself is primarily concerned about her own feelings of loneliness, alienation, rejection, and poor self-esteem. A skillful therapist can offer concern for the girl’s feelings… . The father will need to assess his involvement in his daughter’s life. This will probably require a more supportive, less intrusive role for him. The mother, at the same time, will need to share her emotional self and her vulnerabilities with her daughter, and build a relationship of greater mutuality.” (pp. 163-64)     

Stereotypes?

Some people suggest that SOCE tries to force boys into stereotypical masculinity. But it is actually pro-LGBT adults who often stereotype a child as “gay” (or even “transgender”) based on their personality traits. Here is what Nicolosi says:

  • The “child should not be forced into a predetermined mold that will cause him to deny his fundamental nature—his natural gifts of creativity, sensitivity, kindness, gentleness, sociability, intuitiveness, or high intellect.” (p. 38)
  • A “boy can be sensitive, kind, social, artistic, gentle—and heterosexual. He can be an artist, an actor, a dancer, a cook, a musician—and a heterosexual. These innate artistic skills are ‘who he is,’ part of the wonderful range of human abilities. No one should try to discourage those abilities and traits.” (p. 48)

 “Rejection”?

Critics of SOCE often argue that it results from a “rejection” of the LGBT child. Does Nicolosi urge parents to reject their children if they identify as gay? The answer is clearly no:

  • Of course, no intervention can guarantee that a child will grow up heterosexual… . I trusted that Margaret and Bill would still love their son if those efforts were not successful.” (p. 32)

Last month, USA Today ran an article about Scott Dittman, a man who attended Pittsburgh’s LGBT Pride parade wearing a t-shirt offering “Free Dad Hugs.” More than 700 people took him up on the offer, with some becoming quite emotional—“you can see how damaged deep down so many of them are,” Dittman reported.

Yet Nicolosi himself wrote something similar, saying:

  • Boys have a need “for a man’s attention, affection, and affirmation—a need to be hugged and held” (p. 30).

Maybe the distance between LGBT activists and the books they persuaded Amazon to ban is not as great as they think—if only they would take the time to read them.

Amazon Book-Banning: Cowardly, Bullying, and Foolish

by Peter Sprigg

July 15, 2019

A year ago, I wrote a blog post warning that a proposed bill in California, AB 2943, could result in books being banned. Some critics of the bill even pointed out how it could be interpreted to ban the Bible itself. As it turns out, book-banning has now become reality.

Here’s a brief recap:

Book-Banning: 2018

The California bill AB 2943 was intended to outlaw “sexual orientation change efforts” (“SOCE;” sometimes referred to by the media and critics as “conversion therapy”) as a form of “consumer fraud.” But the state’s fraud statute applies to the “sale … of goods” (like books) as well as services (like counseling). And SOCE were defined to include efforts to change “behaviors”—not just attractions. So since the Bible is a “good” that is often sold, and since it attempts to change homosexual behavior (“You shall not lie with a male as one lies with a female,” Leviticus 18:22), an argument could be made that Bible sales would fall under the bill’s prohibition.

I pointed out that even if a Bible ban was unlikely (and unlikely to hold up in court), other books—ones whose whole purpose is to promote sexual orientation change—could be much more vulnerable.

Although “fact-checkers” tried to debunk the notion of a Bible ban (or even a book ban), the concerns about religious liberty were serious enough that Assembly sponsor Evan Low withdrew the bill.

Book-Banning: 2019

Fortunately, in 2018 the California legislature stepped back from the brink of banning books for people with unwanted same-sex attractions (SSA).

But now in 2019, the country’s largest bookseller—Amazon.com—has done it for them.

News broke on the eve of Independence Day, when Americans celebrate our freedoms—that we will no longer be free to buy certain books dealing with SOCE or with unwanted SSA on Amazon.

Maybe it was the Brits’ revenge—because some reports made it appear that the change resulted from months of agitation by a lone British activist named Rojo Alan. (A Change.org petition urging their removal may have predated Alan’s campaign, though.)

The Amazon ban on SOCE books is, in some ways, even more insidious than the California one would have been. After all, the state would have had a hard time mustering the resources to enforce its ban on the “sale … of goods” that promote sexual orientation change.

Amazon, on the other hand, is itself a dominant force in the book market. If buyers cannot find these books on Amazon, there is a good chance they will not be able to find them anywhere—which, of course, is the goal of LGBT activists. A state ban would have run up against pesky obstacles like the First Amendment to the Constitution. Amazon, as a private company, faces no such constraint.

As a market leader, however, they have a moral obligation to a value usually promoted by the left—“diversity.” A diversity that makes no room for conservative viewpoints on controversial issues is no diversity at all—it is dictatorship.

Amazon is Reserving the Right to Actually Burn Books

Amazon has not made any explicit comment on the removal of ex-gay therapy books. Their website features a policy on “Offensive and Controversial Materials,” which include:

  • Violence, Intolerance, and Hate
  • Human Tragedies and Disasters
  • Child Abuse and Exploitation

However, the language is vague enough that Amazon has basically reserved the right to ban anything it wants. (“We exercise judgment in allowing or prohibiting listings … Amazon reserves the right to determine the appropriateness of listings on its site, and remove any listing at any time.”).

Some critics of Amazon’s decision have raised the specter not only of book banning, but of book burning. Lest you think this an extreme, purely metaphorical critique, note this part of the Amazon policy: “… [W]e will take corrective actions, as appropriate, including but not limited to …  destroying inventory in our fulfillment centers without reimbursement …” (emphasis added). Rather inexplicably, however, the company also says, “Amazon’s Offensive Products policies apply to all products except books, music, video and DVD” (emphasis added). Perhaps they meant “including?”

Last year, I wrote this:

But shouldn’t every American be shocked at the thought of a state banning the sale of any books based on their philosophical, religious, or moral viewpoint?

Banning books because one doesn’t like their message?

In the United States of America?

In this country, you can sell all kinds of books.

You can sell Mein Kampf, and The Communist Manifesto. Bookstores sell the celebration of sado-masochism of Fifty Shades of Grey, and the celebration of sodomy in Allen Ginsberg’s Howl.

But now, apparently, you cannot (or will not, in the case of Amazon) sell books that are intended to help people with unwanted same-sex attractions achieve their own goals for their lives.

Every American—even those who don’t approve of or support therapies to change sexual orientation—should oppose the kind of blatant censorship that Amazon is exercising.

Critiques of SOCE are Misguided and Ill-Informed

In pulling SOCE books from its website, Amazon is acting as a bully—but also as a coward, succumbing to social and political pressure (from a tiny group of people), rather than standing firm for true diversity of thought.

However, they are also simply acting as fools. While principles of freedom and diversity should be enough to keep books on change therapies available for sale, there is another major reason to do so—the things critics say about such therapies, and books promoting them, are simply false. In fact, I doubt very much that any of the critics of these books have ever even seen—let alone read—any of the books they want banned.

Here are some of the myths about sexual orientation change promoted by critics of SOCE. Since I have written extensively on this topic, let me just provide links to some of the papers documenting the truth about sexual orientation change.

  • Myth No. 1 – “Sexual orientation is immutable.”

Four large data sets reflecting longitudinal analysis of the same individuals over time in population-based samples have shown that significant change in all elements of sexual orientation (attractions, behaviors, and identity) can change. Even lesbian scholar Lisa Diamond has said it is time to “abandon the immutability argument once and for all.”

See: “Evidence Shows Sexual Orientation Can Change: Debunking the Myth of ‘Immutability’” (March 2019)

  • Myth No. 2 – “There is no evidence that SOCE is ever effective.”

Six studies or surveys from 2000 to 2018—five of them in peer-reviewed academic journals—have all shown that SOCE can be effective for some clients in bringing about significant change in some components of sexual orientation, while few harms were reported.

See: “Are Sexual Orientation Change Efforts (SOCE) Effective? Are They Harmful? What the Evidence Shows” (September 2018)

  • Myth No. 3 – “Research has proven that SOCE is harmful.”

The American Psychological Association—although generally critical of SOCE—has admitted that there is no “valid causal evidence” that SOCE is harmful.

See: “The Hidden Truth About Changing Sexual Orientation: Ten Ways Pro-LGBT Sources Undermine the Case for Therapy Bans” (May 2018)

Taylor Swift and the Politicization of Pop Music

by Lauren Kaylor

July 10, 2019

In spring 2019, Taylor Swift announced that her newest album would “have political undertones,” and she was not kidding.

This June, she released the album’s second single and accompanying music video entitled “You Need to Calm Down.” The song is an unambiguous announcement of her support for the LGBT movement and a denouncement of anyone who isn’t fully on board with it. Lyrics like, “You would rather live in the Dark Ages,” and “Why are you mad when you could be GLAAD?” leave no middle ground. 

In the video, Swift parades around glamorously with celebrities and a multitude of individuals who identify as homosexual and transgender. A group of toothless, unwashed, scraggily-haired protesters also make a garish appearance, brandishing misspelled signs like “Get a brain, moran.” The video is crystal-clear social commentary with all the subtlety of a sledgehammer. But the video goes a step further than one would normally expect from a popstar. At the end of the video, text appears calling for direct political action: “Please sign my petition for Senate support of the Equality Act on Change.org.”

As FRC has made clear, the “Equality Act” would in reality create vast amounts of inequality in our society through its codification of “sexual orientation/gender identity” (SOGI) laws. Among other injustices, the Equality Act would require small business owners like bakers, florists, and photographers to celebrate same-sex weddings, allow men who identify as women to use women’s restrooms and locker rooms and compete in women’s sports, shut down faith-based adoption agencies because of their religious beliefs, and force all medical providers, regardless of their conscientious objections, to perform sex-change surgeries.

Swift’s “You Need to Calm Down” gives us a unique two-fold opportunity. First, you can respond to her petition by signing FRC’s own petition to halt the Equality Act. Second, you can use technology to respond with genuine love and reconciliation toward those who see any opposition to the LGBT agenda as “hateful.”

John 13:35 tells us that “They will know you by your love for one another.” Other verses that speak truth into this are 1 Corinthians 13 and Luke 6:27-36. Christians are called to love others completely, even those who disagree with or hate us. True love does not mean agreeing on everything or accepting all lifestyle choices, but it means willing the good of the other. Christians are called to love people who experience same-sex attraction and gender dysphoria. Loving does not equate to pandering to views that contradict our beliefs. We ought to will the good of one another because we love them—because we love Christ. For this reason, we want the LGBT movement to know of God’s love for them.

Christians are called to the ministry of reconciliation, which can only be manifested in the advent of love. 2 Corinthians 5:18-19 says: “All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting peoples’ sins against them. And He has committed to us the message of reconciliation.”

I propose that Christians embrace their role as Christ’s ambassadors and show others Christ inside of us. 2 Corinthians 5:20 tells us, “We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us.” When we accept our role as His ambassadors, the Holy Spirit will work through us and bust the false narrative of “hate.” Let us show so much of Christ’s love to those who disagree with us that Taylor Swift’s heart might be led to change. 

Lauren Kaylor is an intern for Life, Culture, and Women’s Advocacy at Family Research Council.

The Summer of Love: The Beauty of the Marriage Covenant

by Hugh Phillips

June 27, 2019

During the month of June, the wedding season is in full swing. Yet, June is also celebrated as “LGBT Pride Month.” Throughout this month, the LGBT lobby argues that they are “celebrating love” and claim that their movement is based in love and a respect for human dignity. However, much of the LGBT movement is based on a misguided notion of love that is rooted in a harmful postmodern hedonism that, as Nancy Pearcey details in her book Love Thy Body, actually devalues human dignity.  

In this season, Christian conservatives must draw Americans toward the beauty of the true love that the natural marriage covenant between one man and one woman provides. To do this we must properly define love.

Competing Views of Love

Natural marriage and the LGBT movement represent two competing worldviews on what love and marriage actually mean. The LGBT movement, born from the sexual revolution, bases its definition of love on subjective feelings and emotions. They argue that all feelings, attractions, and passions for a person, and any relationships that result, should be celebrated and protected by state law.  This view can be tied with the modern assertion of marriage and relationships as merely contractual agreements.

 Pearcey discusses this when she notes that, long before the sexual revolution, the secular worldview devalued the basis of love and marriage from an unconditional covenant to a contract focused on how the relationship can benefit each individual. Thus, the modern view of relationships, whether heterosexual or homosexual, is based on personal fulfillment of desire and is no longer grounded in selfless love and fulfillment based on adhering to God’s natural design. This irrational view of relationships overlooks the unnatural and harmful effects of such relationships while also disregarding a truthful view of what love actually is.

Biblical Love and the Marriage Covenant

By contrast, the biblical worldview sees relational love as an objective choice and duty that, while often accompanied by emotions, is not dependent on those emotions as the basis of the relationship. In fact, as C.S. Lewis notes in The Abolition of Man, the hallmark of adulthood is being able to train one’s emotions so that they conform to the moral law of God’s natural order. Marriage is the greatest expression of and training ground for this because, under the biblical model, the couple are called to give up their own desires and wants for that of their spouse.

Marriage is the best institution in which to express the biblical model of love. This is revealed in God’s original purpose for marriage. The Bible is clear that the marriage covenant was created by God as a metaphor for His sacrificial love and salvation for His people. Theologian Dr. R.C. Sproul noted: “Marriage is ordained and instituted by God—that is to say, marriage did not just spring up arbitrarily out of social conventions or human taboos. Marriage was not invented by men but by God.” Thus, when Paul speaks on marriage, it makes absolute sense when he urges husbands to “…love your wives as Christ loved the Church and gave himself up for her…” Covenant marriage is an institutional protection of covenant love.

The biblical model of love and marriage, as revealed strikingly in God’s design for marriage, is revolutionary because its emphasis is, not on the individual, but on the other person. This is explicitly shown in the marriage vows which detail and initiate the marriage covenant. In the vows, the focus is on one’s duties and obligations to the other person, not on fulfilling one’s own desires. This is an expression of biblical love. When Paul speaks on the characteristics of love in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8, all the characteristics are strikingly focused towards the good of others and not one’s own good.

This is why Family Research Council has always defended natural marriage and has seen it as the bedrock of a safe and prosperous society. Besides the plethora of proven social benefits that marriage has for society, it is one of the keys to the future of America, both culturally and politically. It is so for this reason: it both teaches and models selfless love for another, a trait vitally necessary for the survival of any Republic such as ours.

The Beauty of True Love and the Marriage Covenant

In an age of LGBTQ “rights” and the celebration of sexual confusion and personal desire above all, our culture must return to a celebration and respect for the beauty of the selfless marriage covenant. Let’s return to the picture of a man and a woman sacrificially committing themselves to each other in marriage on a beautiful summer afternoon. Let’s also think of the beauty and powerful testimony of that same couple, now old, having remained faithfully committed in a lifetime of service to each other under God. Most Americans would smile at this picture. Why wouldn’t they? Such a relationship is a natural human desire!

Thus, in an era dominated by individualism and obsessed with personal autonomy and choice, Christians and conservatives should counter the LGBT movement by showing the beauty and joy of the mutual sacrifice and commitment of the natural marriage covenant. Nothing will counter the harmful effects of the sexual revolution or show the Gospel more clearly than the picture of a man and a woman unconditionally giving themselves to each other’s service for a lifetime. Against this type of true love and commitment the sexual revolution has no power.

So, this summer, let’s respond to LGBT Pride Month by celebrating the beauty of marriage according to God’s design and the couples who have been faithful in marriage. Let us also recommit ourselves as a movement to living out in our own marriages the faithfulness of the marriage covenant and truly mirroring God’s faithfulness towards us, His redeemed! It’s June—thank God for the wonder of His gift of marriage!

Hugh Phillips is a Government Affairs Intern at Family Research Council working on pro-life legislation.

Prostitution and Abortion: The Exploitation of Women and Children

by Abigail Moreno-Riano

June 26, 2019

Earlier this year, the state of New York legalized abortion up until birth, and the governor and abortion activists then proceeded to celebrate this loss of life as a joyous occasion. Now, another crisis of human dignity was narrowly averted after New York came close to passing the first ever complete decriminalization of prostitution.

While Nevada is the only other state to legalize forms of prostitution, New York’s bill is the most extensive bill that has ever been introduced, and as these authors noted, “would only turn mostly women and girls into ‘commodities to be bought and sold.’” Thankfully, this bill has been tabled for now, but there is no doubt that pro-prostitution activists will continue to push for more decriminalization legislation in the future.

The Dignity of Every Life

We are pro-life because we believe each person is made in the image of God and therefore, whether man, woman, or unborn child, each person is worthy of dignity and respect. It is not what one does that allows a person to earn the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, but rather, who a person is that endows them with these dignities. This belief is founded on the truth that God created male and female in his own image, as stated in Genesis 1:27.

It is here that we see human dignity does not just apply to men, but to women as well. This seems like an obvious statement, but in a world where the businesses of porn, prostitution, and sex trafficking increasingly degrade and destroy a woman’s perception of herself (not to mention a man’s perception of women) until she no longer sees herself as human but as an object, the dignity of women must be called out and fought for. As we fight for babies to be treated with dignity, so should we for women.

Women advocating for this bill, like sponsor Sen. Julia Salazar, argued it is because of their concern for the “rights” of women entrapped in prostitution and their desire for these women “to be treated with dignity and to be treated like human beings” that they support this bill. It is here that we see that the core of their advocacy is a misconstrued understanding of human dignity. The abortion and prostitution industries survive by encouraging and empowering this misconstrued understanding of human dignity, masking exploitation under the guise of “freedom.”

The Cycle of Degredation

As the cycles of pornography, sex trafficking, prostitution, and abortion continue, they are only fed by laws that seek to legalize their exploitative behavior. For too long, men who seek their own advantage have shown through their actions and attitudes towards women that their version of “liberty” comes from selfishness and “sheer self-will.”

This distorted understanding of freedom has been taken up by the Feminist movement, through which women seek to remedy exploitation by fighting for equal rights, as they should, but with the wrong tactics. Their view of freedom makes room for the belief that women are empowered by their ability to receive an abortion, but these avenues only allow exploitation to continue in the degradation of the unborn.

As Edmund Burke wrote, true freedom “is not solitary, unconnected, individual, selfish liberty, as if every man was to regulate the whole of his conduct by his own will.” True freedom exists not by selfish indulgence, but by “equality of restraint,” in which no person can “find means to trespass on the liberty” of any other person but every person is respected and respects others because of their inherent worth and value.

The cycle of degrading human dignity must end, and it starts with the woman understanding that her inherent value and worth is not dependent on the usefulness of her body. If women continue to allow themselves to be exploited, they allow men to degrade their worth and see abuse as the norm. The pro-life movement rightly seeks to help women value their babies as people, not as objects. But until women see themselves as inherently valuable and not as objects, they’ll never see their babies as more than the same.

Attorneys from Sanctuary for Families spoke out against decriminalizing prostitution, calling out prostitution as “an industry of abuse and violence which profits from the commodification of human beings,” adding, “The answer is not making it legal to pimp or buy sex. The answer is ensuring that we respect the full equality and dignity of every human.”

Ending the Industries of Exploitation

A woman is not valuable because of the desirability of her body, she is valuable because she is made in the image of God. Period. Until women start seeing themselves as dignified and worthy of more, they will only allow exploitation to continue. When women understand the inherent dignity that they possess, they are empowered to view their unborn children with the same dignity.

Laws that restrain abortion and prostitution do not imply that women are subservient to men. Rather, they demonstrate that women and unborn babies are equal and possess inherent dignity, and are therefore deserving of respect, while forcibly suppressing the industries of exploitation. Therefore, we must continue to fight for the dignity and protection of all, particularly women and unborn children, by upholding both anti-prostitution and pro-life laws.

Abigail Moreno-Riano is an intern at Family Research Council.

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