Taking a Stand

Actor and former teen-heart throb Kirk Cameron has been in the news a lot lately, and most of it has been in the form of attacks on Cameron for his stand on the issue of homosexuality.

Cameron has a new documentary, Monumental: In Search of America’s National Treasure, in which Cameron addresses the founding of America and the decline of the nation, which he directly attributes to a turning away from those founding principles. I have not seen the film, so I am going by what I have read about it in articles and reviews. Apparently, though, the film has nothing to do with those issues for which he has been in the news, and according to Cameron himself, “never alludes to such hot-button topics.” The controversy stems from Cameron’s appearance on CNN’s Piers Morgan Tonight in early March.

Morgan asked Cameron about homosexuality, abortion and other so-called social issues during the interview rather than talking much about the documentary. Morgan’s approach, in my opinion, was a result of Rick Santorum’s prominence in the GOP presidential race at the time and his focus on such issues, combined with the general tendency of the liberal media to seek out opportunities to attack Christian beliefs that are consistent with Scripture.

When asked about homosexuality, Cameron told Morgan, that homosexuality is “unnatural” and that it is “ultimately destructive to so many of the foundations of civilization.” That should not come as any surprise to anyone who (1) is familiar with biblical teaching, or (2) expects a Christian to stand by his beliefs. Cameron made the point in the aftermath of the interview and resulting frenzy that there should have been nothing surprising about his answers. Rather, he said, “the only thing that would have been surprising is if I had not answered the way I did. That would have been more newsworthy than what I said” (WORLD, April 7, 2012, p. 61).

Initially Morgan said that Cameron had been “brave” and “honest to what he believed,” according to the Huffington Post. But when Cameron expressed during an interview on FOX that he was blindsided by Morgan’s questions since he had been told that the interview would be about his new documentary, Morgan took offense and retaliated through Twitter, tweeting that Cameron was “moaning” and “whining” and accusing Morgan of “stitching him up” on the issue. One tweet said, “So I’ll let others decide if he was stitched up…or just a bigot.” That was followed by Morgan’s final tweet on the issue: “I respect his religious beliefs – just don’t respect his use of bigoted, inflammatory language re homosexuality.”

Hmmmm… Let’s see. There seems to be a contradiction there somewhere. Piers Morgan respects Kirk Cameron for speaking out for his religious beliefs, and for staying true to them, but he thinks that in so doing Cameron was bigoted and inflammatory? I don’t see how it could be both ways. After all, there is not really any less-direct or less-offensive way to say what Cameron said, is there? I suppose he could have simply said that he believes it is a sin and left it at that, but that would not really change the message. And I think that it is relevant to point out that Cameron did not launch into an attack on homosexuals or use the platform of Morgan’s international audience to advance his convictions; he merely answered Morgan’s question.

What we have here is yet another prime example of the intolerance of those who so loudly preach tolerance. Apparently tolerance means tolerating just about any position, belief or idea other than those held by Christians and taught by the Bible. After all, there were no loud cries of inflammatory language against those who spoke out against Cameron after his interview. Herndon Graddick, spokesman for the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD), said that Cameron’s comments cause “gay youth and victims of bullying” to “truly suffer,” and said that Cameron said that homosexuals were detrimental to civilization. (What he said, of course, is that homosexual behavior is detrimental to civilization). Roseanne Barr went much further, tweeting, “Kirk or Kurt or whatever Cameron is an accomplice to murder with his hate speech.” GLAAD launched a petition called, “Tell Kirk Cameron It’s Time to Finally Grow Up.” Notice the implication–having a conviction that is contrary to what the media or the noisy masses say is okay is considered juvenile and immature.

This issue also serves to highlight the growing tendency of liberal churches and liberal Christians (and I do not mean “liberal” in the left-wing political sense) to compromise on, and even ignore, biblical teaching. Entire denominations have, of course, now sanctioned homosexual marriage and allow homosexual clergy. Outspoken individuals professing to be Christians are lauded for saying that the Bible does not condemn homosexuality and that God created homosexuals that way. The problem is, the Bible clearly does not teach that. Why would our culture embrace those who claim to believe something and then deny part of what it is that they claim to believe? It is easy-believism. Believe the parts we like, leave out the parts we don’t. That way we can feel good about ourselves and still do what makes us feel good.

A case in point, unfortunately, is actress and singer Kristen Chenoweth. She is a professing Christian, but is also a support of gay and lesbian rights, and she says there is no contradiction between those two things. How does she explain that? By claiming that homosexuality is not a choice, but is actually how God makes some people. “If it was a sin to be short, what would I do? Well I’d be right on the hell bus,” she has said (Chenoweth stands 4’11”). “I don’t believe God makes mistakes, and that includes a person’s sexuality.” I have addressed this issue in previous posts so I will not elaborate other than to point out again that there is a definite and important difference between physical attributes over which people have no choice and they cannot change (height or race, for example) and behaviors over which people do have a choice, even if you believe they were born with a predisposition toward such behavior.

Here is a comment from Chenoweth, posted on Flordia Agenda’s web site (Florida Agenda is an LGBT newspaper): “Even as a young child, I thought, ‘Why is being gay bad?’ I didn’t understand it. So I asked my grandma, who is the best Christian I ever knew. I’d say, ‘what about my friend Denny: he’s gay, is he going to hell?’ She told me, ‘I read the Bible like I eat fish. I take the meat that serves me well but I don’t choke on the bone.'”

The problem is, the hard teachings of Scripture, those that are contrary to what we may like or want them to say, are not bones in the sense that Chenoweth’s grandmother used that analogy. Fish bones are not intended to be eaten. The Scripture, however, is intended to be read and understood–eaten and digested, if you will–in it’s entirety. Not just the parts that taste good.

2 Timothy 3:16 says, “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness.” That little three-letter word at the beginning makes all the difference. Not some…but ALL.

The College Question

In recent days the political news cycle has been crackling with two sides of the question of how important college is in the United States. Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum attracted attention–most of it negative–for saying in Michigan that President Obama is “a snob” for saying that he wants everybody in America to go to college. Eugene Robinson, writing in The Washington Post, went so far as to say that “[o]nly a fool or a liar is unaware that higher education is all but a prerequisite for success in the post-industrial economy,” and went on to call Santorum hypocritical because Santorum himself has both an MBA and a law degree, and two of his own children are in college.

Santorum’s comments in Michigan, however, included this further elaboration: “There are good, decent men and women who go out and work hard every day, and put their skills to test, that aren’t taught by some liberal college professor trying to indoctrinate them. Oh, I understand why he (Obama) wants you to go to college. He wants to remake you in his image.” In other words, Santorum was espousing the position that a college education is not essential for success in America. He was, of course, also making the point that liberals may desire–abuse, even–the power of influence that comes with being a college professor, but I am not concerned here about the politics of this discussion. I am more concerned about the basic root issue of whether or not college really is important.

Marvin Olasky wrote an essay on this very subject that appeared in the January 14, 2012 issue of WORLD Magazine. Olasky asks several significant questions in the essay (i.e., “Do colleges help or hurt character formation?”) but he states, in his concluding paragraph: “I’m not at all suggesting that those called to be lawyers, doctors, professors, etc. should not go to college. I am suggesting that work as an electrician, landscaper, or X-ray technician, or in hundreds of other occupations that don’t require a four-year college degree, also glorifies God and should be honored by all of us.”

As someone who is a school superintendent, has three master’s degrees, and would gladly spend his life as a professional student if it were possible to do such a thing, one might (understandably) assume that I would come down on the side of urging students to go to college. It might surprise you, then, to know that that is not my position. On the contrary, I have seen more than enough evidence to know that college simply is not for everyone, and that pushing someone to go to college who either does not want to go or who does not know what he wants to do with his life is probably not a good idea–and is a potentially huge waste of money.

I am a firm believer that there are certain things that everyone needs to know in order to be, in the words of E.D. Hirsch, Jr., culturally literate. Beyond that, though, four (or more) additional years of education simply are not for everyone. Taking a year or two off to work and explore possible careers is not necessarily a bad idea for a high school graduate who is still unsure of the Lord’s calling for her future. Even if a student is certain he or she wants to get a college degree, starting in community college is not a bad idea, either. Classes are generally smaller, almost always are less expensive, and the credits will transfer to a 4-year school if a student does decide to go on for a bachelor’s degree.

It is also important to keep in mind that college is always going to be available. Perhaps now more than ever before it is easy for someone to take classes part-time, either in-person or through distance learning, and to get a college degree at any point. In other words, someone may get out of high school, work for a few years, and then decide that a college degree is essential in order to accomplish his or her career goals. I can just about guarantee you that that individual will be a much better student now that he has decided he wants to go get that degree than he would have been if he was forced/pressured to go to college when he was not ready or did not want to go.

I am certainly not anti-college, either. I think that if a young person knows what he or she wants to do, or at least has a strong idea, and is ready and desirous to go to college, then he or she should go, right out of high school if possible. I think college can be wonderful, both for the experiences and friendships as well as for the learning. The point is, we do not need to make this an absolute. Students who aren’t sure they’re ready for college should not be pressured to go. As Olasky suggests, there are plenty of positions in which someone can be very successful–and very happy–that will never require a college degree.

As an aside, I have not seen the full context of the remarks, but I don’t think President Obama was suggesting that everyone in America should have to go to college. More than likely he was simply suggesting that everyone in America who wants to be able to go should be able to do so. Just so happens, I agree with that, too.

A Very Slippery Slope

WARNING: THIS POST CONTAINS REFERENCES TO BEHAVIORS THAT READERS MAY FIND OBJECTIONABLE AND OFFENSIVE. DISCRETION IS ADVISED.

Republican presidential candidate and former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum has received considerable grief and accusations of bigotry for asserting–and standing by his assertion–that expanding the definition of marriage could serve as the beginning of a pathway that could lead to further expansions of marriage to include any number of possible combinations. If marriage between a man and a man or a woman and a woman is okay, why not between one man and two women? Or one woman and three men? Why not between a human and an animal? Or between an adult and a child? Many who support homosexual marriage have blasted Senator Santorum for his position, and have also accused him of both using such statements in an attempt to scare people and of being ignorant and disconnected from reality. However, I am not ashamed to say that I agree with Senator Santorum, and I think that there is ample evidence to support his position.

Until 1973 homosexuality was considered a mental illness by the American Psychiatric Association. Look out how far America has moved in the ensuring 39 years: homosexuality is regularly depicted on television and in movies, homosexual marriage is now legal in several states and the District of Columbia, and homosexuality is widely portrayed to be a biological predisposition. In other words, homosexuals are “born that way” the argument goes. Furthermore, those who most adamantly support homosexual marriage have called it the Civil Rights Issue of Our Day! Please do not misunderstand me when I say, in response, “That’s ridiculous.” The color of someone’s skin is, without a doubt, something that person is born with, and it is not anything that a person can change (with the possible exception of through expensive and dangerous surgical procedures or drugs). Alan Keyes once said, referring to the old habit of calling African-Americans people of “the colored persuasion,” that “persuasion has nothing to do with it.” Even if one were to grant that homosexuality is an innate, even a genetic, characteristic (which I do not), someone can choose not to engage in homosexual behavior. A person cannot choose to change the color of his or her skin. Accordingly, to suggest that people who choose to engage in homosexual behavior should receive the same legal rights and protections as people who do not choose to do so, and that not allowing them these rights is tantamount to denying equal rights and equal protection to African-Americans or others on the basis of their skin color is absurd.

But the issue for which Senator Santorum has received the strongest attacks is not his opposition to gay marriage (after all, that position hardly makes him unique) but his insistence that granting homosexual marriage could lead to a further expansion of what marriage includes. I must ask, with the Senator, why would it not? Once homosexuality is widely accepted (if it isn’t already), why would we not think that polygamy will be next? Or pedophilia? Or bestiality? After all, it has been only 39 years since homosexuality was considered a mental disorder, let alone morally wrong. It has not been all that long ago that homosexuality began to be portrayed on TV and film, and no it is difficult to find a show on network or cable television that does not include a gay or lesbian character. Remember, it was only 15 years ago that Ellen DeGeneres “came out of the closet.” Remember the uproar that caused?

The groundwork is already being laid for the polygamy. There are at least two “hit shows” that are centered around the very idea: HBO’s Big Love is a drama about a polygamist and his three wives. TLC’s Sister Wives is a reality show about a polygamist, his four wives and their sixteen combined children. (They get around laws banning polygamy by only one of the four marriages being a legal marriage). Why would we not think that as soon as homosexuals are allowed to marry that polygamists would not demand the same right? (And quite frankly, if we buy into the arguments used by the homosexual side of the argument, how could we justifiably refuse to grant the same right to polygamists?)

Sadly, polygamy is perhaps the least scary of the possible expansions of marriage that we find along the slippery slope. Pedophilia is defined as “sexual desire in an adult for a child.” Think that approval of that wouldn’t happen? Don’t be so fast. There is a non-profit organization in Maryland called B4U-ACT that has been speaking out on behalf of pedophiles since 2003. The group uses the less-offensive term “minor-attracted people.” They claim there are as many as 8 million men in the U.S. who are attracted to minors. (The December 17, 2011 issue of World discusses the groups efforts to revise the DSM-IV and remove any stigma associated with pedophilia). Homosexuality is now considered just another sexual orientation. Rarely now is it even referred to as an alternative lifestyle; it is just one lifestyle on the menu of options. So why would pedophilia not become just one more option? There have been scholarly articles suggesting that adult-minor sexual activity is not only not necessarily wrong, but is even healthy, provided that both parties are consenting participants.

If homosexuality is okay, then polygamy becomes okay, and even pedophilia eventually becomes okay, why wouldn’t bestiality be okay too? If one person is genetically predisposed to sexual attraction to members of the same sex, another needs multiple partners, and still others are naturally attracted to minors, who could tell someone that they cannot be sexually attracted to animals? I am not going to explore this argument in any further detail because I am sure you get the idea: once we cross the line, where do we draw the new line? Better yet, how can we draw a new line?

John MacArthur has written this: “If we teach our children not to walk where it is slippery, we will minimize their opportunity to fall.” Good advice for parents (and others working with children). Good advice for our nation, too–if we don’t want to fall, lets not walk where it’s slippery!