Archive | Culture

When a “mother” fathers a child, who are you to judge?

Perhaps you’ve already seen the new Dove soap commercial featuring a transgender “mom” (see above). Such displays are ubiquitous in pop culture these days, but this one caught my eye. This one stood out because it is not only redefining male and female, but it is also redefining mom and dad.

My question for those who accept transgender identities is this: Are there any limits on who can “identify” as a mom? If being a mom really comes down to how one self-identifies, what is the limiting principle here? Here’s what I mean:

  • Should someone who fathers a child and who looks and dresses like a man self-identify as the “mother” of a child? If not, why not?
  • Should someone self-identify as the mother of a child that they have no legal relationship to (either by birth or by adoption)? If not, why not?
  • Should someone self-identify as a “mother” when there is no child in the picture at all? In other words, should one self-identify as a mother even if he or she has no relationship to any particular child? If not, why not?
  • The Dove commercial says that “you are the only expert in your kid.” But what if a child says that she needs a father? Should her father self-identify as her mother? If not, why not?

If the Dove commercial is correct that we must affirm a father who self-identifies as a mother, then isn’t it possible for anyone to be a “mom”? If the Dove commercial is correct that there really is no one right way to be a mother, then who’s to deny any of the self-identities listed above?

These questions would have been incomprehensible to people even ten years ago. But I do think they are relevant today. The hegemony of self-identities is here, and those promoting them have given us no principle by which they may be limited–even when they are harmful to others. And yet they owe us that explanation, but that explanation is not forthcoming. And it won’t be forthcoming because they don’t have an answer. How long will it take for folks to figure that out? And how much damage will be done to families before they do?

Santa in a gay marriage in new picture book

HarperCollins will be publishing a new book featuring a gay Santa. Here’s the report from TIME magazine:

A new picture book will depict Santa as a gay man in an interracial relationship, publisher Harper Design confirmed Tuesday.

The book, Santa’s Husband, goes on sale Oct. 10 and tells the story of a black Santa Claus and his white husband who both live in the North Pole. Santa’s spouse frequently fills in for his husband at malls, according to a description of the book Harper Design provided to TIME…

A photo… of the book’s original concept art shows the couple, both wearing Santa suits, looking dreamingly into each other’s eyes.

Harper Design said the book is meant for all ages.

I guess we already knew that no area would be off-limits in the cultural revolution before us, but this one is still quite sad. Santa has long been transformed into a secular symbol of Christmas. But still, he was a symbol for children. This book is but one more indication that purveyors of the new sexual morality are willing to appropriate any and every cultural symbol and transform it into an avatar of the revolution. 

A remarkable display of self-unaware inconsistency

The video above is a remarkable display of self-unaware inconsistency.

These students are asked if a creative professional has the freedom to decline work that conflicts with his or her personal beliefs. All of the students said “yes” when the creative professional was the dress designer refusing to make a dress for Melania Trump or a Muslim singer refusing to sing in a Christian Church.

But when they are asked if a Christian photographer should be able to decline to work at a same-sex wedding, they all said “no.”

They favor limiting the freedom of conscientious Christians even though they wouldn’t limit the freedom of other conscientious citizens in analogous situations. The inconsistency seems totally lost on all of these students. And it exemplifies why religious freedom faces perilous challenges right now in our country.

(HT: Andrew Walker)

“Beauty and the Beast” to feature an “exclusively gay moment”

If you and your children enjoyed Disney’s live-action version of Cinderella, perhaps you have been looking forward to the March 17 release of the live-action version of Beauty and the Beast. Unfortunately, news has leaked that might temper that enthusiasm.

The director of Beauty and the Beast, Bill Condon, has told a British publication that the new movie will contain an “exclusively gay moment.” According to Condon, Gaston’s sidekick LeFou will be involved in a subplot in which he is wrestling with his sexuality. In director Condon’s own words:

“LeFou is somebody who on one day wants to be Gaston and on another day wants to kiss Gaston… He’s confused about what he wants. It’s somebody who’s just realising that he has these feelings. And Josh [the actor who plays LeFou] makes something really subtle and delicious out of it. And that’s what has its payoff at the end, which I don’t want to give away. But it is a nice, exclusively gay moment in a Disney movie.”

Obviously, the precise depiction of this “exclusively gay moment” is not revealed in the interview. But the editor of the magazine publishing the interview says this:

“It may have been a long time coming but this is a watershed moment for Disney… By representing same-sex attraction in this short but explicitly gay scene, the studio is sending out a message that this is normal and natural – and this is a message that will be heard in every country of the world, even countries where it’s still socially unacceptable or even illegal to be gay… It’s only a first step towards creating a cinematic world that reflects the one in which many of us are now proud to live. But it’s a step in the right direction and I applaud Disney for being brave enough to make it – and in doing so hopefully helping to change attitudes and bring about real social progress.” [underline mine]

Some have suggested that perhaps this news is a publicity stunt and that the depiction may not be as explicit as the director suggests. We cannot be sure until the movie is released. Nevertheless, The Washington Post reports that “the live-action ‘Beauty and the Beast’ will bring an overt depiction of a gay man to the big screen.”

This news is not surprising for anyone familiar with Disney’s pro-gay stance in its corporate practices. Increasingly, these themes have been detected in the content of its films. But now, it looks like Disney is poised to do something more explicit than it has in the past—to introduce an “exclusively gay moment” in a film marketed to children.

Even though I’m not surprised by this, I am disappointed by it. My own children were delighted by the live-action Cinderella that came out in 2015. It was really well done. For that reason, we have been looking forward with great anticipation for another well-done production. But if these reports are true, we won’t be seeing this one.

The reason is very simple. I am not going to let a movie studio communicate to my children that sexual immorality is “normal and natural.” This movie will no doubt be packaged in a narrative and a production value designed to capture their imaginations, but it will do so in a way that conceals a false and destructive message. To let them see this material would go against everything that I am trying to teach them about the good, the beautiful, and the true. If these reports are accurate, this movie would powerfully subvert that effort.

We have to be constantly vigilant about what stories capture our children’s imaginations—even stories from places like Disney. In fact, I should stipulate, especially from sources like Disney. As one friend put it to me:

We don’t allow Disney into our house, except for the older stuff. They are wicked engineers of the imagination. The corruption of the best is the worst.

My friend’s point is a simple one. Our minds and our consciences are shaped more by the stories that frame our experience than by anything else. The story-tellers, therefore, are the “engineers of the imagination.” They can influence and shape us for the good or for ill. They can either reflect or deflect our moral imagination from the true story of the world—and there is but one true story. Virtue involves not only knowing that story but also living life within its frame of reference.

Beautiful productions with compelling stories and sympathetic characters are powerful devices for shaping worldview and imagination. If those devices are turned against the true story of the world—the one featuring a Creator who made us, loves us, and provides a way to redeem us—then they are subversive to what is best for us. And that is where we must be vigilant—not only for our children but for ourselves.

Disney has put me and many other parents like me in the position of having to explain to very small children why this movie is bad for them. But we will do it. And we will use it as a teachable moment about the true story of the world—a story in which we are strangers and aliens in a place that is not our home (1 Peter 2:11). Moments like this one bring that truth home in spades, and it is a lesson best learned early before there is more on the line than the screening of a Disney movie.

Gerson Gives away the Farm. Engagement is not acquiescence.

In his most recent editorial, Michael Gerson highlights a new film that celebrates shifting “evangelical” attitudes concerning LGBT issues. Gerson contends that evangelicals should not be confused with fundamentalists and that evangelicals are in fact changing their views on sexuality to fit in with late modernity in the wake of the sexual revolution. It’s a little hard to tell what Michael Gerson intends in this editorial. Is this a thought experiment—a pensive response to a thought-provoking film? Or is this a celebration of those “evangelicals” who believe homosexuality and Christianity are compatible? I’m trying to be generous here, but it really does sound like the latter. Continue Reading →

The Boy Scouts succumb to radical gender ideology

Today the Boy Scouts of America announced that they would begin allowing girls to enroll as Boy Scouts and as Cub Scouts. But this new policy doesn’t allow all girls to enroll—only those who are willing to say that they are a boy on their Scouting application. Here’s the text of the statement released earlier today:

As one of America’s largest youth-serving organizations, the Boy Scouts of America continues to work to bring the benefits of our programs to as many children, families and communities as possible.

While we offer a number of programs that serve all youth, Cub Scouting and Boy Scouting are specifically designed to meet the needs of boys. For more than 100 years, the Boy Scouts of America, along with schools, youth sports and other youth organizations, have ultimately deferred to the information on an individual’s birth certificate to determine eligibility for our single-gender programs. However, that approach is no longer sufficient as communities and state laws are interpreting gender identity differently, and these laws vary widely from state to state.

Starting today, we will accept and register youth in the Cub and Boy Scout programs based on the gender identity indicated on the application. Our organization’s local councils will help find units that can provide for the best interest of the child.

The Boy Scouts of America is committed to identifying program options that will help us truly serve the whole family, and this is an area that we will continue to thoughtfully evaluate to bring the benefits of Scouting to the greatest number of youth possible – all while remaining true to our core values, outlined in the Scout Oath and Law.

Two observations about this statement:

1. An 8-year old girl recently sued The Boy Scouts of America for discrimination after she was kicked out of her scouting group. She had identified as a boy on her application. But the troop subsequently told her that she wasn’t eligible because the gender on her application did not match the sex listed on her birth certificate. The suit against New Jersey Boy Scouts claims that the Boy Scouts “violated the state’s law against discrimination.” State laws like the one in New Jersey are precisely what this BSA statement cites as its rationale for this decision. Because these laws are on the books, the BSA would be exposed to lawsuits in every state that has a SOGI law in the books (for more on SOGI laws, read this). Rather than fighting these lawsuits, the BSA has apparently decided to capitulate. Given the fact that the BSA has already succumbed to pressure to allow gay Scouts and gay Scouting leaders, it is no surprise that they have succumbed on this issue as well.

2. The statement says that “Cub Scouting and Boy Scouting are specifically designed to meet the needs of boys.” This new policy, however, is just one more way in which the BSA will fail to “meet the needs of boys” (and girls, for that matter). Until now, the BSA has used the sex listed on the birth certificate to determine who was a boy and who wasn’t. But now the BSA is saying that this is no longer sufficient for distinguishing male from female. That means that the BSA is saying that biology no longer matters in distinguishing male and female. This is an enormous concession to radical gender ideology, and it is not something that will help children. Last year, the American College of Pediatricians released a statement contending that “Gender Ideology Harms Children.” Among other things, the statement says this:

A person’s belief that he or she is something they are not is, at best, a sign of confused thinking. When an otherwise healthy biological boy believes he is a girl, or an otherwise healthy biological girl believes she is a boy, an objective psychological problem exists that lies in the mind not the body, and it should be treated as such…

Conditioning children into believing a lifetime of chemical and surgical impersonation of the opposite sex is normal and healthful is child abuse. Endorsing gender discordance as normal via public education and legal policies will confuse children and parents, leading more children to present to “gender clinics” where they will be given puberty-blocking drugs. This, in turn, virtually ensures they will “choose” a lifetime of carcinogenic and otherwise toxic cross-sex hormones, and likely consider unnecessary surgical mutilation of their healthy body parts as young adults.

When a child embraces a psychological identity at odds with his bodily identity, this is not healthy or good for that child. And it only adds insult to injury for adults to accommodate this harmful self-impression. But that is what this new policy does.

I can’t help but grieve that the Boy Scouts are going along with this radical redefinition of what it means to be a boy. They are making a big mistake in this, and it will be one that hurts not only their organization but also the very boys they wish to serve.

The Womens March has a doctrinal statement

Kirsten Powers had a tense exchange on CNN the other night as she was trying to point out that the Womens March over the weekend excluded some women (see above). One of the other panelists chuckled at her for pointing this out, although it is not clear why.

In advance of the march, the organizers published a doctrinal statement titled “Unity Principles.” Anyone who departed from the doctrinal statement was not allowed to “partner” with the march. Among other things required of “partners” is explicit affirmation of unrestricted abortion rights and gay rights. Here’s a snippet:

REPRODUCTIVE RIGHTS

We believe in Reproductive Freedom. We do not accept any federal, state or local rollbacks, cuts or restrictions on our ability to access quality reproductive healthcare services, birth control, HIV/AIDS care and prevention, or medically accurate sexuality education. This means open access to safe, legal, affordable abortion and birth control for all people, regardless of income, location or education.

LGBTQIA RIGHTS

We firmly declare that LGBTQIA Rights are Human Rights and that it is our obligation to uplift, expand and protect the rights of our gay, lesbian, bi, queer, trans or gender non-conforming brothers, sisters and siblings. We must have the power to control our bodies and be free from gender norms, expectations and stereotypes.

The Womens March was in fact exclusionary of some women as the organizers did not allow prolife women to be “partners” for the event. The New Wave Feminists, a prolife feminist group, were dropped from the “partner” list specifically because of their views on abortion.

Perhaps it wasn’t clear to all the marchers, but there was a specific agenda for the march. Kirsten Powers was right. It wasn’t a march for all women. It was only for those women who hold to certain dogmas about sexuality and gender.

Read the rest of the “Unity Principles” here.

“I Got Gay Married. I Got Gay Divorced. I Regret Both.”

Meredith Maran had an interesting essay in The New York Times over the weekend: “I Got Gay Married. I Got Gay Divorced. I Regret Both.” In it, she describes her “marriage” to her lesbian partner in 2008 and the subsequent dissolution of their relationship in 2013. She regrets her gay marriage and divorce, but it is not because she is against gay marriage in principle. Rather she says this: Continue Reading →

Celebrities and Citizens share their “Obama moment”

The White House produced a video of celebrites and citizens sharing their most memorable moment of President Obama’s presidency. Each one relates their “Obama moment” as a final farewell in these last days of his administration.

I won’t offer much commentary on this. It is precisely what we would all expect. Still, I can’t help but notice that about half the country would mourn some of the things being celebrated as “progress” in this video. It’s a striking reminder of how divided our country remains over fundamental issues of justice and truth. And that is not likely to change anytime soon.

When the “gender revolution” claims the children

Many of you have likely seen the special issue of National Geographic dealing with transgenderism. The entire issue—and indeed the feature article—is a case study in one-sided propaganda. It celebrates transgender identities as healthy expressions of human diversity. And it shows little to no familiarity with the contested nature of their claims or with scientific evidence that contradicts transgender ideology. The entire issue simply assumes the truthfulness of claims made by some of the most ardent transgender ideologues.

Andrew Walker and I have written a response to this at The Public Discourse, and you can read our entire argument there. I simply want to highlight one item for your consideration. National Geographic makes the case that children with transgender identities might consider medical interventions to transform their bodies to the opposite sex. This might start with hormone blockers that delay puberty, and it might end with so-called sex-change surgeries to reshape genital anatomy and reproductive structures to those of the opposite sex. And they argue that such surgeries are not merely for transgender adults, but also for transgender children.

And then, in one of the most obscene items I’ve ever seen in a major news publication, there is a picture of a 17-year old girl displaying her bare chest still bearing the scars of her recent double mastectomy. Think about this. National Geographic publishes a groundless propaganda piece and exploits the naked body of a minor child to help make their tendentious point. In response to this, we write:

The final page of Henig’s article celebrates the mutilation of minor children with a full-page picture of a shirtless 17-year old girl who recently underwent a double mastectomy in order to “transition” to being a boy. Why do transgender ideologues consider it harmful to attempt to change such a child’s mind but consider it progress to display her bare, mutilated chest for a cover story? Transgender ideologues like Henig never address this ethical contradiction at the heart of their paradigm. Why is it acceptable to surgically alter a child’s body to match his sense of self but bigoted to try to change his sense of self to match his body? If it is wrong to attempt to change a child’s gender identity (because it is fixed and meddling with it is harmful), then why is it morally acceptable to alter something as fixed as the reproductive anatomy of a minor? The moral inconsistency here is plain.

Transgender activists often act as if traditionalists are mistreating transgender persons by failing to acknowledge their identity. But I would simply ask them this question. Who’s mistreating whom in this scenario? Those who mutilate and display that naked chest of female child? Or those who try to help confused children to understand who God made them to be. These questions answer themselves.

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