Monday, November 10, 2008

Why am I not surprised?

OK, the election is history. The lawn signs are gone. I am sleeping like a baby, in the knowledge that Obama will be our next President. It's now time for me to turn to the other issues that matter to this blog.

One is the Prop 8 fiasco that has taken place in California, where a slender, 52% majority voted to deny a basic human and civil right to a significant segment of the human population. What next? It's a slippery slope, ladies and gents. It's not much of an imaginative leap from marriage to property ownership, enfranchisement, and other basic rights. Are you going to take those away from the LGBT folks as well?

Of course, speaking prominently on the question of Prop 8 was one of its major supporters, Saddleback Church's Pastor Rick Warren, who appears on this blog from time to time whenever I need an example of a wolf in sheep's clothing, or a portrait of an aquatic bottom-feeder. In justifying his views, Pastor Warren had recourse to the Bible, a 2000-year-old collection of documents written by many authors in a tribal civilization where cultural paranoia was often in evidence. Of course, Pastor Warren believes that the Bible and all it contains is the inviolable word of God, from the depiction of God's six-day labors in Creation to the quaint story of Adam and Eve. In fact, he states, God has told us what to think in the matter of marriage:

"For 5,000 years, EVERY culture and EVERY religion -- not just Christianity -- has defined marriage as a contract between men and women," Warren wrote. "There is no reason to change the universal, historical definition of marriage to appease 2% of our population. This is one issue that both Democrats and Republicans can agree on. Both Barack Obama and John McCain have publicly opposed the redefinition of marriage to include so-called 'gay marriage.' Even some gay leaders, like Al Rantel of KABC oppose watering down the definition of marriage. "Of course, my longtime opposition is well known. This is not a political issue, it is a moral issue that God has spoken clearly about. There is no doubt where we should stand on this issue."

Rick, Rick, Rick. It must be wonderful to be able to go through life without doubts, leaning on the the Bible in every situation. That way you don't ever have to think. You can just agree with every opinion expressed by a mainly illiterate, nomadic people who lived several millennia ago. Forget any reference to the modern world. Forget that the LGBT population totals far more than 2% -- probably 10-15%. It's not about appeasement, Rick. It's about justice.

Forget that we have brains, and we're supposed to use them -- along with our hearts. Forget that Jesus stood for inclusion, for the power of love against hate, for the dignity and value of every being.

That muffled sound I hear is Jesus weeping.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

THE GAY Q. & A.

1. Isn't your view of gays judgmental? Even hateful?

The main point isn’t to judge people but to avoid giving support to something that will cause them to do harm to themselves and to their partners or potential partners. We have to be humble enough to recognize that anyone of us might be tempted to do something that is self-destructive at some time in our lives, but that is no reason to affirm the legitimacy or normality of something that is intrinsically destructive.

The word “hateful” would certainly apply to certain people for whom any association with a homosexual would be repugnant. If the present controversy eradicates that attitude, then something good will come of it. But if the effort to distance ourselves from that attitude goes to the point where we encourage people to act on homosexual impulses, then we’re doing them even greater harm. The rational path is to extend the hand of fellowship but to be open to opportunities to help them avoid behavior that is harmful to themselves and to potential partners.

We have to be compassionate when it comes to accepting people who happen to have homosexual inclinations. Is it respectful to encourage people to harm themselves and possible partners? No. Is it hateful to warn people away from that? No. We need bolder, more creative and sensitive forms of outreach.

2. Who is harmed by supporting such relationships?

Most importantly, those who are inclined toward homosexuality are harmed if they act on those impulses. A widespread myth is that AIDS is the main danger, but AIDS is actually just a small part of the health hazard. Consider some of the others:

They include 26 types of diseases other than AIDS (Journal of Adolescent Medicine); a life expectancy equal to that experienced in 1871 (Oxford University’s International Journal of Epidemiology); high risk of three types of hepatitis (Centers for Disease Control); proctitis associated with the gonorrhea, chlamydia, herpes, & syphilis widespread among homosexuals (Journal of the American Medical Association); an incidence of anal cancer 35 times higher than usual (Dr. Joel Palefsky, an expert in that field); among lesbians, a higher prevalence of bacterial vaginosis and hepatitis C (Sexually Transmitted Infections, a journal).

Some of the health hazards exist even in the extremely unusual situations in which there is complete faithfulness with neither of the partners having had prior relationships. The inherent weakness of the body results in its inability to withstand gay sex without a serious risk of damage, including tearing of the sphincter, fistular infections of the rectum, and incontinence. Support for physical relationships among members of the same sex is a false benevolence, a well-meant gesture that is very often a death sentence.

Secondly, the society is harmed morally when it gives support to homosexual unions. Marriage, for instance, has always been a form of social support for the sake of the stability of the next generation. To give sanction to same-sex unions and to favor the benefits accruing to such unions, goes beyond a stance of live and let live and into one of providing active support. It places the whole society into the position of spreading suffering to those who might avoid it and also dilutes the urgent support needed by married couples today.

3. Won't succeeding generations see us as narrow-minded?

Succeeding generations are more likely to see the wisdom in restoring maximum support for marriage. For one thing, the things that are obscured now will eventually become common knowledge. Error often prevails for a time, but truth prevails ultimately.

In addition, it will eventually become evident that all productive members of society pay into a common pool of benefits from which certain groups may legitimately draw – for example, military veterans and married people. It harms society to spread these benefits too thin, in particular by extending them for purposes that will harm the beneficiaries and society as a whole. Granting benefits to homosexuals falls into this category. Their rights as members of a free society, however (e.g., freedom of speech, etc.), should not be restricted. It is broadmindedness -- looking at the big picture -- that will lead a person to oppose homosexuality -- for several reasons:

a. PERSONAL HAZARD. The justification for equating it with heterosexuality typically includes a claim of knowing examples of faithful homosexual partners. That's
the narrow view, because for every one of those, there are a thousand gays who are moving quickly from one relationship to the next;

b. SOCIAL INSTABILITY. The worst social problem in America (the one that correlates the most closely with all the rest) is the absence of fathers due to marital
breakup. It's therefore crucial to view support for homosexuality as weakening the special support that urgently needs to be focused on the rest of the population and the need for strong mother-and-father families;

c. PARALLEL DEVIANCE. Homosexuality shouldn't be seen as a special form of deviance that is receiving greater tolerance. Premarital sex, adulterous relationships,
cohabitation, casual divorce, and even pornography are moving into wider acceptance in a parallel manner. The big-picture viewpoint is to see the broad and long-term
sexual patterns and their potent impact on our entire civilization.


4. But this is about loving relationships, not about sex!

People certainly need same-sex relationships that are edifying and encouraging. Regardless of anyone’s sexual inclinations, these can be managed in ways that are approved by God. If a person has inclinations that are not within His will, then the fellowship of caring Christians is the best possible bulwark, so long as there is an uncompromising framework of accountability before God.

5. I question your motives. Or: You’re gay yourself, repressing your urges. Or: You have a holier-than-thou attitude. Or: You're a bigot, someone who just doesn't like people who are different than you are. Or: You're engaging in a form of hate.

You're absolutely free to assume all of those things. Why? Because it doesn't make any difference. All that matters is what is objectively true and real about the subject under discussion. The question is whether homosexuality is destructive to those who engage in it and to society in general.

6. I know two men who have been together as homosexual partners since 1974 and they are both healthy. They say this demonstrates that homosexual relationships are exactly the same as heterosexual relationships.

I know about a 100-year-old man who is still a smoker. However, this doesn't demonstrate that taking smoke into your lungs is a healthy as taking in nothing but air.

7. I have heard some of the stories of gays and lesbians and I have been touched. Shouldn't we open our minds to these?

Only if we maintain an abundant supply of emotional Novocain about the stories of millions of them whose lives have been shockingly painful and short.

8. Now, really, don't we have to be respectful about the fact that different people have their own views about what's right and wrong?

We may not know even approximately the nature of the moral requirement in a given instance, and we must remain humble about that, but that doesn’t prove the nonexistence of an objectively real moral order. The danger all around us now is that people are forsaking any notion of objectivity in the moral area – even though there is unrecognized unanimity about morality in many areas. Rape isn’t morally wrong just because almost every thinks it is wrong but because, as Lewis said, there exists in the world a “real Right and Wrong.” It’s just as real as the multiplication table and the law of gravity.

9. Isn't it obvious that in raising children, all that matters is love, regardless of gender? Why not two mommies?

The fact remains that gender matter --perhaps nowhere more than in regard to child rearing. The unique value of fathers has been explained by Dr. Kyle Pruett of Yale Medical School in his book Fatherneed: Why Father Care Is as Essential as Mother Care for Your Child. Pruett says dads are critically important simply because “fathers do not mother.” Psychology Today explained in 1996 that “fatherhood turns out to be a complex and unique phenomenon with huge consequences for the emotional and intellectual growth of children.”

A father, as a male parent, makes unique contributions to the task of parenting that a mother cannot emulate, and vice versa. According to Harvard educational psychologist Carol Gilligan, mothers tend to stress sympathy, grace and care to their children, while fathers accent justice, fairness and duty. Moms give a child a sense of hopefulness; dads provide a sense of right and wrong and its consequences. Other researchers have determined that boys are not born with an understanding of “maleness.” They have to learn it, ideally from their fathers.

10. But supporting gay rights is really very benign. Where's the real harm?

Let's say there are six million American gays dying at the usual American death rate of .8%, and so 48,000 are dying each year. According to the official Danish statistical agency, 80% of married gays do not reach old age, and if that applies to the U.S., then 38,400 American gays are dying young each year, compared to about 4000 Americans over the entire history of the Iraq war. This is a hidden holocaust.

11. Isn't this a matter of justice? Gays are being maligned, for instance by suggesting that they are predatory when it comes to children!

Sometimes they are indeed maligned, and that is of course deeply to be regretted. On the matter of being predatory, however, consider these findings published in the Journal of the American Medical Association: (1) 50 percent of male AIDS victims reported having sex with an adult male by the age of 16; (2) 20 percent of male AIDS victims had sex with an adult male by age 10.

Also, "The Advocate," a popular homosexual newsmagazine, conducted a survey of its readers. Of the 2,500 responses obtained, 21 percent admitted that an adult man committed a sexual act with them by the time they were 15.

12. But won't same-sex marriage alter the whole social pattern of homosexuality?

According to researchers studying same-sex marriage in Scandinavia over the past 15 years, marriage has had no discernible impact on homosexual patterns of instability. The rapid breakup of same-sex marriages is parallel to the rapid breakup of same-sex couples who haven't been married. Very few avail themselves of same-sex marriage to begin with, and of those who do, the liaisons have usually been quite short-lived.

13. Isn't the gay rights movement the wave of the future?

It will eventually be the wave of the past. There are certain fundamentals in human experience will eventually spell the doom of the gay rights movement. Everyone has had personal experience and personal observation about the importance of a mother that adding another man couldn't compensate for -- and the importance of a father that adding another woman couldn't compensate for. Gender matters; men and women are different, and this goes far beyond biology. The biological differences account for the creation of children; the other differences account for the psychological stability of children. For example, few things are more common nowadays than a bad father or an absent father having the effect of creating psychological difficulties among children.

As a general rule, you cannot simply plug in miscellaneous other people, no matter how loving, and remove the general tendency of this social condition to cause criminality and every other social pathology. Nothing in social science is more conclusive that this question of children being better off with their biological mother and father. Says Rutgers Professor David Popenoe: "In three decades as a social scientist, I know of few other bodies of data in which the weight of evidence is so decisively on one side of the issue." There is a deluge of delusion sweeping society to the effect that gender is irrelevant, but eventually only the blindest of ideologues will maintain this.


14. Aren't the mental illnesses said to be common among active homosexuals either fabricated or attributable to homophobia in society?

In a Dutch study published in the Archives of General Psychiatry, homosexuals were much more likely to experience major depression, bipolar disorder, panic disorder, agoraphobia and obsessive compulsive disorder. Females with any homosexual contact within the previous 12 months were more often diagnosed with major depression, social phobia or alcohol dependence. Holland is extremely accepting of homosexuality, and so it's hard to attribute this to social factors. Disordered parental relations are the most common causative factor. (Sandfort, T. G. M., de Graaf, R., Bijl, R. V., & Schnabel, P. (2001). Same-sex sexual behavior and psychiatric disorders: Findings from the Netherlands mental health survey and incidence study. Archives of General Psychiatry, 58(1), 85-91.)

15. Isn’t gay sex the practical equivalent of the usual kind of sex?

The rectum differs from the vagina with regard to its suitability for penetration. It has lubricants and muscles that allow it to accept friction without damage, whereas friction in the rectal area can easily cause the leakage of fecal material. It may be indelicate to talk about this difference, but much misapprehension will prevail until it is understood.

16. Isn't it obvious that the objections to homosexuality are rooted in pre-modern superstitions? Clearly sex is sex and love is love, whether homosexual or heterosexual.

If that's the case, it is certainly curious that no one has ever done a study demonstrating it. In other words, if you wanted to show that homosexual relationships are physically dangerous and emotionally transitory, you could discover a mountain of evidence that is Himalayan. On the other hand, if you wanted to show that homosexuality is about the same as heterosexuality in these respects, you would search the library in vain. No study exists that shows the level of disease and the level of unfaithfulness to be the least bit comparable to those of heterosexuality. Try searching and see. The whole idea of homosexuality being normal and healthy is the grandest and wildest hoax since the Mississippi Scheme or the South Sea Bubble of the 18th Century.