Archive | Culture

How seared is our nation’s conscience that she tolerates this cruelty?

Two items have appeared in the news this week out of Virginia that ought to shock every decent person who sees them. Both of them involve elected officials in Virginia arguing for infanticide. And, no, I’m not being hyperbolic. I want you to see this for yourself to establish exactly what happened.

First, Virginia State Delegate Kathy Tran has proposed a bill that would guarantee a right to abortion even when the mother is in the process of giving birth in the 40th week. Republican legislator Todd Gilbert pressed the point in a hearing with Tran. You can watch the exchange above or read below:

Gilbert: So how late in the third trimester could a physician perform an abortion if he indicated it would impair the mental health of the woman?

Tran: Or physical health.

Gilbert: Okay. I’m talking about mental health.

Tran: I mean, through the third trimester. The third trimester goes all the way up to 40 weeks.

Gilbert: So to the end of the third trimester?

Tran: Yes. I don’t think we have a limit in the bill.

Gilbert: So where it’s obvious that a woman is about to give birth, she has physical signs that she’s about give birth, would that still be a point at which she could still request an abortion if she was so certified? [pause] She’s dilating?

Tran: Mr. Chairman, you know, that would be a decision that the doctor, the physician, and the woman would make.

Gilbert: I understand that. I’m asking if your bill allows that.

Tran: My bill would allow that, yes.

Yes, you read that correctly. Tran argues that it ought to be legal to kill a child at the 40th week as the child is coming through the birth canal. If it is surprising to you that such a thing is legal (even if rarely done), be surprised no more. This is exactly what Roe v. Wade and its companion decision Doe v. Bolton have established. Roe makes this kind of barbarism into a “constitutional right” through every stage of pregnancy—right up until the point of birth.

Second, if Tran’s testimony didn’t send chills up your spine, then this certainly will. The Democratic Governor of Virginia Ralph Northam went on a radio program this morning to defend Tran’s 40-week abortion bill. The host asked Governor Northam about Tran’s remarks the previous day. He was asked specifically about whether the bill allows a woman to have an abortion after she has gone into labor at the 40th week of pregnancy. This is what the Governor said:

If a mother is in labor, I can tell you exactly what would happen. The infant would be delivered. The infant would be kept comfortable. The infant would be resuscitated if that’s what the mother and the family desired, and then a discussion would ensue between the physicians and the mother. [emphasis mine]

You can watch Gov. Northam’s statement below:

Now just think about what this means. Governor Northam is going even further than Tran. He is saying that a fully delivered baby could be left to die on the operating table if that is what the mother and the physician want. A fully delivered baby!

How did we get to the point that we are considering whether or not to throw away the life a fully delivered baby? How did we get to the point that a fully delivered baby’s life may not be protected in law? I thought every person had an inviolable right to life under our Constitution? Well, apparently not according to Governor Northam.

If you have been paying attention to the abortion debate in America at all, none of this will be surprising to you. The pro-choice position excludes the unborn from the human community. It gives no consideration at all to the human life that is growing inside a mother’s womb. It says that a woman’s so-called “right to choose” trumps the right of another person not to be killed. That is the pro-choice position. It is no surprise that we now have a governor who is saying that a fully delivered baby’s life is disposable and subject to a woman’s “right to choose” as well.

The United States of America has the most liberal abortion laws on the planet, and that is due to Roe v. Wade. That infamous decision makes it legal to kill unborn people at any point during pregnancy up to and including the point of birth. Because of that, Roe v. Wade has presided over the killing of 60 million unborn human beings since 1973. That is the holocaust times ten. And now there is a Democratically elected governor who would expand this barbarism to include those children who survive birth. How seared is our nation’s conscience that she tolerates this cruelty?

The state of New York has recently passed a similar bill, and the state legislature cheered after its passage. It was an abominable display. I hope and pray that the same ugliness won’t make its way to the state of Virginia. If you live in Virginia, you need to call your representatives and oppose this with all your might. You need to flood their phone lines until this bill is stopped.

I am reminded that the pro-life cause has a long way to go. So many people in our nation have hardened their heart to the humanity and dignity of the weakest among us. Today is proof of that.


UPDATE: Senator Ben Sasse is virulent in his response to Governor Northern, and I sympathize with his consternation. He writes,

This is morally repugnant. In just a few years pro-abortion zealots went from ‘safe, legal, and rare’ to ‘keep the newborns comfortable while the doctor debates infanticide.’ I don’t care what party you’re from — if you can’t say that it’s wrong to leave babies to die after birth, get the hell out of public office.

About those Catholic School boys

I don’t have a great deal to add to the voluminous online commentary about confrontation between some Catholic School boys and protestors at the March for Life. At this point, it is clear that the initial viral narrative condemning the boys was an embarrassing whiff on the part of the media (see here and here). It appears that many people were willing to believe the worst possible interpretation of a brief video clip simply because some of the boys were wearing MAGA hats. I wonder if the video would have gotten any attention at all had the boys not been wearing those hats.

In any case, I was just thinking that it is probably a good time for all of us who use social media to remember how toxic and destructive a rush to judgment can be. People can be targeted and doxed with swift effect. Lives and livelihood’s can be overturned in a moment by an unthinking social media mob. For that reason, all of us should be careful that we not get carried away by the passion of a mob and forget basic biblical justice:

“The first to plead his case seems just, Until another comes and examines him.” –Prov. 18:17

This text is telling us that we need to reserve judgment on a matter until all sides have been heard. We need this instruction because we are sometimes tempted to believe initial reports on an event—especially if they are compelling. We also are prone to believe things that confirm our biases. And let’s face it. This was a charged political event, and almost every viewer is going to have a political bias that impacts his evaluation of evidence. That was certainly the case here. Sometimes the temptation to virtue-signal can overcome us before we even realize what we’ve done, and that failure is only exacerbated when a declaration is made before all the facts are in.

I do not mean to foreclose the possibility of spirited commentary about controversial ideas or events. All I’m saying is that Biblical wisdom would simply have us slow down. Remember your own biases. Remember that there is another side to the story. Sometimes the truth is more complicated than our biases would let us admit. And sometimes the best course of action is simply not weigh-in when so many variables are unknown. Sometimes the best course of action is not to weigh-in even when the variables are known.

Again, we would all do well to learn from this. I hope we do.

Stop the Presses! Christian teacher goes to teach at Christian school!

The Huffington Post apparently thinks it’s newsworthy that Karen Pence—wife of Vice President Mike Pence—has taken a teaching job at a Christian school. What’s so extraordinary about this? According to the report:

It’s not a school where everyone is welcome. In a “parent agreement” posted online, the school says it will refuse admission to students who participate in or condone homosexual activity. The 2018 employment application also makes candidates sign a pledge not to engage in homosexual activity or violate the “unique roles of male and female.”

“Moral misconduct which violates the bona fide occupational qualifications for employees includes, but is not limited to, such behaviors as the following: heterosexual activity outside of marriage (e.g., premarital sex, cohabitation, extramarital sex), homosexual or lesbian sexual activity, polygamy, transgender identity, any other violation of the unique roles of male and female, sexual harassment, use or viewing of pornographic material or websites,” says the application.

The application says that the school believes “marriage unites one man and one woman” and that “a wife is commanded to submit to her husband as the church submits to Christ.” The application asks potential employees to explain their view of the “creation/evolution debate.”

These paragraphs seem designed to scandalize readers with the backwardness of the school and therefore of Ms. Pence herself. It seems lost on the writer that these kinds of moral standards in Christian schools are common. There are countless other schools just like this one all over the country, including the one where I teach. Admission and employment policies for Christian schools vary depending on the mission of the institution, but it is anything but uncommon for Christian schools to expect their employees and students to behave like Christians. Such schools are anything but newsworthy.

The real story here is that The Huffington Post thinks this is newsworthy. But it’s not just The Huffington Post. Now the story is being picked up by outlets across the country, including The Washington Post, which features this headline: “The school that hired Karen Pence requires applicants to disavow gay marriage, trans identity.” These reports represent a point of view that is scandalized by mere Christianity and that can only view bona fide Christian piety as fanatical and anti-social. It is a sign of the times that news writers could be so cut off from the way that millions of American believe and conduct their lives. But alas, here we are.

If you want to know why so many traditional believers look with skepticism at mainstream news media, look no further than the reporting on Karen Pence’s new teaching job.

—————

UPDATE 1: Other news outlets are now picking up this story, and the headlines are accumulating. The vast majority reflect the cynical spin of the original Huffington Post piece. For example:

NBC News: “Karen Pence to teach at school that bans LGBTQ employees, students”

Politico: “Karen Pence to teach at school that bans gay students, parents, employees”

Newsweek: “Karen Pence Has Just Taken a Job at a School That Bans LGBT Pupils”

CNN: “Karen Pence teaching art at school that bans gay students, parents”

UPDATE 2: Vice-President Mike Pence responds to critics of his wife. Watch below.

Is what divides us more significant than our humanity?

I just finished a long and interesting Buzzfeed piece about Ellen Degeneres. There is much that I could comment on, but there is only one item I will highlight here. The author of the article writes this:

Yes, we all have a shared humanity. But there is so much more that we don’t share—race, education level, class, marital status, ability, gender identity, the list goes on—and those are the things that directly contribute to our ability to succeed and survive in this world.

I don’t know how else to read this except as a statement that what divides us is more significant than our shared humanity. Perhaps others read right over this without a second thought, but to me it stuck out as an example of the worst kind of identity-divisiveness that plagues our culture. Are we really going to quietly acquiesce to the notion that our social divisions are more fundamental than our humanity? And yet it is presented in this article as an afterthought so self-evident that it needs no justification or defense.

The Buzzfeed article does not mention “intersectionality” at any point, but I would argue that its influence is nevertheless there. I have written elsewhere that intersectionality is an intellectual framework that does more harm than good. As a theory, intersectionality fosters a truncated view of human identity and tends to exacerbate social divisions rather than healing them. And yet, it seems to be the assumed framework of so many influencers in our society. It creates a social dynamic that incentivizes grievance based on identity. In that way, it entrenches social divisions.

No one is immune from these divisions, even the publicly affable Ellen Degeneres. The hostilities simply find new targets—even targets that were formerly lauded as heroes to the progressive cause. I do not mean to defend Ellen, Kevin Hart, or anyone else in making this observation. I’m simply observing that the prevalent identity-based way of analyzing the human condition is going nowhere to heal the human condition. We are going to need something more than what is on offer by the politics of identity.

The church is supposed to be a counterculture of people from a wide array of social groups—groups that have found reconciliation and unity not on offer by the theorists of social division. This gospel unity bears witness to a world afflicted by constant and unrelenting division. The intersectional spirit of the age seems to incentivize such hostilities, but only the gospel can overcome them (Gal. 3:28). And that is the message that the world desperately needs to hear and to heed.

A drop of water in the comprehensive ocean of my business

In A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, Ebenezer Scrooge has a startling conversation with the ghost of his dead business partner, Jacob Marley. Jacob is damned in death for his misdeeds in life, and he appears to warn Scrooge that he is headed for the same fate. Scrooge resists the suggestion that Jacob’s life was damnable. Scrooge understands that if Jacob’s life is damnable, then so is his own. So this exchange ensues:

“But you were always a good man of business, Jacob,” faltered Scrooge, who now began to apply this to himself.

“Business!” cried the Ghost, wringing his hands again. “Mankind was my business. The common welfare was my business; charity, mercy, forbearance, and benevolence were all my business. The dealings of my trade were but a drop of water in the comprehensive ocean of my business!”

Well done, Mr. Dickens. Well done. Lord, help us to understand what is the comprehensive ocean of our business.

He has told you, O man, what is good;
And what does the Lord require of you
But to do justice, to love kindness,
And to walk humbly with your God?
Micah 6:8

Masculinity at the mass shooting in Thousand Oaks, California

ABC News reports on female survivors of the mass shooting in Thousand Oaks, California. In the video above, you will see one woman describe what heroic young men did at the critical moment. She describes it this way:

There were multiple men that got on their knees and pretty much blocked all of us with their back towards the shooter, ready to take a bullet for any single one of us.

Abigail Shrier of The Wall Street Journal also writes about the men who helped others to safety during those terrifying and chaotic moments. She attributes their heroism to “masculinity.” She writes:

This is the masculinity we so often hear denigrated. It takes as its duty the physical protection of others, especially women. This masculinity doesn’t wait for verbal consent or invitation to push a person out of harm’s way. It sends hundreds of firefighters racing up the Twin Towers to save people they’ve never met. And it sent Sgt. Ron Helus of the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office rushing into Borderline Bar and Grill, where the shooter was waiting for him. “I gotta go handle a call,” Helus had just told his wife over the phone. “I love you.”

The way so many women have a natural ease with caring for children, so, too, do many men have the instinct to protect and serve. We can harness it, but it doesn’t proceed automatically. It is a refined sort of masculinity that must be developed and praised. The military has done this for years. Police academies and fire departments do too. Only the educated classes have learned to sneer at it. Would that they never need it.

This is the kind of masculinity we can all get behind. Read the rest here.

“So be strong, act like a man.” –1 Kings 2:2

“Act like men, be strong.” –1 Cor. 16:13

If you accept transgender, then why not trans-aged?

The Washington Post reports that a man wishes to self-identify as twenty years younger than he actually is. Not only that, he wants the change reflected on his birth certificate. From the report:

Emile Ratelband, a 69-year-old who feels like he’s in his 40s… is asking a court in his hometown of Arnhem, southeast of Amsterdam, to change his birth certificate so that it says he took his first breath on March 11, 1969, rather than on March 11, 1949. The judges heard his case on Monday and promised they would render a verdict in the next several weeks.

Ratelband sees his request as no different from a petition to change his name or the gender he was assigned at birth — and isn’t bothered that this comparison might offend transgender people, whose medical needs have been recognized by the American Medical Association. It comes down to free will, he maintains.

“Because nowadays, in Europe and in the United States, we are free people,” he said in an interview with The Washington Post. “We can make our own decisions if we want to change our name, or if we want to change our gender. So I want to change my age. My feeling about my body and about my mind is that I’m about 40 or 45.”

Folks are already dismissing Ratebland’s request as different from and offensive to transgender people. But the obvious question is why? In what way is this different from transgenderism? A closer look reveals that there isn’t very much of a difference at all.

According to transgender ideology, when a person feels himself to be something other than his biological sex, then his psychological identity trumps his biological reality. Ratebland is requesting the same consideration with respect to age. He feels himself to be younger than his chronological age. He’s simply asking for his psychological identity to be recognized over his chronological reality. If it is wrong and oppressive to refuse to recognize the gender identity of the transgender, then why is it any less wrong and oppressive to refuse to recognize the chronological identity of the trans-aged?

Of course, I am not at all supporting Ratebland’s claim. I’m simply pointing out that the identity claim that he is making is no different than the one being made by a transgender person. If you accept one, consistency demands that you accept the other. To accept the one while refusing the other is… well… inconsistent at best and hypocritical at worst. Either a person’s self-identification trumps all other objective indications or it does not. You can’t have it both ways.

But there will be some who will try. Just watch. They will embrace transgender claims while rejecting out-of-hand trans-aged claims, and they will embrace the inconsistency without acknowledging it as such. How do we know? Because that is how they responded to the transracial claims of Rachel Dolezal. I expect nothing different here.

Transgender ideology is a black hole of illogic, sucking toward it all manner of unreasonableness and contradiction. It is a testimony to the power of LGBT propaganda that so few people in our culture detect the contradictions. But the contradictions are no less salient simply because so many people refuse to see them. The inconsistency is a real and obvious, and it serves no one to pretend otherwise.

Fact-checking the paper of record on its fabulist claims about transgenderism

I have marveled this week at the level of distortion in straight news reporting about transgenderism. It all started with a report in The New York Times about the Trump administration’s plans to reverse an Obama-era directive. The distortion starts in the very first sentence of the report:

The Trump administration is considering narrowly defining gender as a biological, immutable condition determined by genitalia at birth, the most drastic move yet in a governmentwide effort to roll back recognition and protections of transgender people under federal civil rights law.

Let’s just fact-check this one sentence. How many claims are in error here? All of them. Continue Reading →

Transgender bathroom policy leads to sexual assault of 5-year old girl

From WORLD magazine:

The U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) announced last month it was investigating a parental complaint alleging a Georgia school district’s transgender policy led to the sexual assault of a kindergartener.

City Schools of Decatur parent Pascha Thomas claims her daughter, known by the initials N.T. in public documents, was sexually assaulted last year by a male classmate in an Oakhurst Elementary School girls’ restroom. Thomas said her 5-year-old daughter complained of vaginal pain the evening of Nov. 16, 2017. When Thomas asked more, the girl said she was leaving a restroom stall when a little boy in her class came in, pinned her against the stall, and groped her genitals with his hands. She said she tried to get away and called for help, but no one came.

When Thomas reported the assault to school officials the next morning, they responded with “deliberate indifference” toward the assault and the victim, according to the complaint. Despite Thomas’ efforts to ensure justice for her daughter over the following weeks, she said, the school failed to conduct a meaningful investigation, discipline the alleged assailant, remove the child from N.T.’s class or ensure he would not use the girl’s restroom again, or offer any assurance of protection or psychological counseling for N.T.

At a meeting in December, the school informed Thomas the boy identified as “gender fluid” and was allowed to use the girls’ restroom per a districtwide policy opening restrooms and locker rooms to students based on their gender identity.

Watch the video testimony from the child’s mother above.

Does guilt or innocence even matter anymore?

Yesterday I read a column by Ross Douthat that is perplexing. If I’m being truthful, it’s worse than perplexing. It is an absolute disappointment. Douthat makes the case that it doesn’t really matter whether Judge Brett Kavanaugh is guilty or innocent of the allegations against him. Even if Kavanaugh is innocent, he has been tainted by accusations made against him and on those grounds alone could be unfit to serve on the Supreme Court. Douthat writes:

Even if Kavanaugh is innocent of the charge of a teenage sexual assault… to give such prominence and power to a man credibly accused would both leave an unnecessary taint on his future rulings (especially given his appointment by our Playboy president) and alienate social conservatives from the persuadable Americans, women especially, whose support any pro-life program ultimately requires.

Douthat goes on to argue that the uncorroborated allegations and the politics are so weighty, that “he may be innocent but his nomination will deserve to fail.” Continue Reading →

Powered by WordPress. Designed by Woo Themes