jasonbwatson

June 7, 2017

Let’s Keep “Parents” Around

Last August Joanna Schimizzi, a National Board Certified Teacher, wrote a blog for the “The Standard – The Official Blog of the National Board.” The blog post’s title was “Ban the word ‘Parents’.” Here’s how she started:

This school year, I want to challenge you to ban certain words from your vernacular. We each have our own set of words and phrases that are taboo in our classroom, like “stupid” or “I can’t”, but this year I want to challenge you to stop using the word “parents”.

What was the reason for this peculiar notion? Schimizzi wanted to challenge teachers “to realize that many of our students live in settings where ‘parents’ are not the only figures who are important to their success.”

That’s true of course. Dictionary.come defines “parent” as a father or mother or a protector or guardian. We usually have the former in mind when we think or say “parent” I am sure, and for years it has been common practice for many forms and communications to utilize “parent or guardian” due to the fact that so many children do not receive their primary care from a biological parent. The reality, however, is that there are more children living with two biological parents than most of us would guess. Last November 17 the U.S. Census Bureau, in Release Number: CB16-192, reported, “The majority of America’s 73.7 million children under age 18 live in families with two parents (69 percent), according to new statistics released today from the U.S. Census Bureau. This is compared to other types of living arrangements, such as living with grandparents or having a single parent.” According to that same report only 4% of U.S. children do not live with any parent.

Schimizzi said her position toward the word “parent” came when she was talking to a guidance counselor at her school about the low number of responses she received on a Parent Survey she sent home with students at the beginning of the year. “Her support helped me realize that many of my questions had implicit bias that placed value on certain experiences not applicable to all families,” Schimizzi wrote. “And one of her best suggestions was to change ‘Parent Survey’ to ‘Family Survey.'”

Of course family used to mean parents and the children they cared for. In fact, the leading portion of Dictionary.com’s definition of the word still says, “a basic social unit consisting of parents and their children, considered as a group, whether dwelling together or not.” It becomes immediately clear therefore that if Schmizzi and her guidance counselor colleague felt that “Family” would be more appropriate to the realities of students than “Parent” that they must both have agreed, whether consciously or not, that “family” no longer means what it used to mean. Therein lies a huge part of why this recommendation to abolish “parents” is so dangerous–but I will get back to that.

Continuing in her blog, Schimizzi mentioned Al Trautwig’s statement during the Olympics that gymnast Simone Biles “was raised by her grandfather and his wife and she calls them mom and dad.” Biles was, in fact, adopted by her grandparents when she was just a toddler. But when Trautwig was challenged on Twitter about his statement he retorted, “They may be mom and dad but they are NOT her parents.” After being ordered by NBC to apologize, according to The Associated Press, Trautwig issues a statement that said, in part, “To set the record straight, Ron and Nellie are Simone’s parents.”

That situation, however, is a great example of why the word “parent” is so important–not grounds for banning the word. I think many people have long understood that there is an incredible difference between procreating and parenting. Whether by conscious choice to give up or abandon a child, by some kind of incapacitation or even by death, not everyone who contributes to the biological act of childbirth can or will fulfill the role of parent. The willingness of other people to step in and fill that role is to be celebrated and commended–and there is absolutely no need to differentiate their role by calling them anything other than parents. This is true when those voluntary parents are related to the child by blood, such as Biles’ grandparents, as well as when there is no genetic connection whatsoever.

Schimizzi wrote that when she distributes her now-revised survey she will “encourage… students to deliver it to whoever plays the biggest role in supporting them. It’s an interesting experience to watch students think about who in their lives offers them the most academic support.” That is a valid point and it is entirely possible (and sadly, in some instances, probable) that a child will receive greater support from someone other than their parent. That needs to be recognized as well but it is not grounds for abolishing the term “parent”–not by a long shot. Schimizzi ended her post by sharing examples from three classroom teachers for improving family engagement. All three of the ideas have merit but not one of them has anything to do with the definition or role of “parent.” Instead, they focus on language barriers, a parent’s own experience as a student and the failure of parents to do anything with information they receive from the school. Effective educators will look for ways to overcome each of those obstacles. Doing so, however, does not require banning a word.

Banning words is a big deal because words have meanings. We like to pretend they do not sometimes–especially when the word gets in the way of what we want to do–but that does not change the reality that they do have actual meanings. Homosexual activists did not like the idea that “marriage” was not permitted for homosexuals because it was restricted to a man and a woman. So what did they do? Get the courts to extra-legally change the definition. (Somehow extra-legal sounds less offensive than illegal, doesn’t it? The reality is they are the same thing. This is an example of how we also choose words carefully to make something sound other-than what it really is–but this does not change reality either). Once marriage was redefined to include homosexual unions the law began further redefinition. Just a few months ago, in March, a New York court granted three-way custody to what many have called a “throuple.” Slate‘s story on the ruling was headlined, “New York Court Affirms Poly Parenthood with Three-Way Custody Ruling.” Just that headline illustrates the point I am making; whoever heard of “poly parenthood”?

Interestingly, the same Slate article–which was very supportive of the decision, recognized that the ruling was simply a logical outgrowth of the Supreme Court’s ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges.

The victory of Dawn Marano and her child could set solid legal precedent for future custody claims of parents in queer or polyamorous families, a necessary next step in a vision of parenthood and child-rearing that extends beyond the boundaries of monogamous marriage. Funnily enough, this is the exact future predicted by Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts in his dissent on the 2015 equal-marriage ruling Obergefell v. Hodges. While arguing that the slippery slope of same-sex marriage could lead to the total breakdown of social norms and family structures, he cited the important legal-theory volume “Married Lesbian Throuple Expecting First Child,” a New York Post article from 2014.

We cannot play fast and loose with our words. Words matter precisely because they mean something. Banning the word will not change that reality. The Supreme Court has demonstrated that it can effectively change the definition of a word, and the New York court has proven that it can follow that example by changing the legal basis of custody, but that is why we must be so diligent to protect the words and definitions that we have in place. When we carelessly cast them aside we are opening the door for something else to take their place–and we may have no idea what that something else will be.

Of course we will find out eventually. Or our children will. I am reminded of this quote from Ravi Zacharias: “Our society is walking through a maze of cultural land mines and the heaviest price is exacted as we send our children on ahead.”

February 16, 2016

My trust and my hope

I know I am not the only one who has been thinking a lot about the unexpected passing of Supreme Justice Antonin Scalia over the past few days. His legacy will last for decades and his decisions, and minority reports, will no doubt be studied by law students, lawyers and judges for even longer. Albert Mohler was correct when he wrote, “Antonin Scalia is almost surely the most influential justice to sit on the Supreme Court in many decades. The loss of his influence, as well as his his crucial vote, is monumental.” I agree with Mohler, and I was very sad to learn of Scalia’s passing. I was sad for his family’s loss of a loved one but I was mostly sad for our country and for the impact that Scalia’s too-soon departure from the Supreme Court will potentially have on both the present and future of this nation. That is why I also found it necessary to reflect on the following thoughts.

First, the United States as a nation, conservatism as a movement, judicial restraint as a philosophy and respect for states’ rights and individual liberty as ideologies did not begin with Antonin Scalia nor will any of them end there. He was a great and influential figure in each of those areas but now that he is gone they must all go on. Someone else–or, ideally, multiple someone elses–must step up and fill the very large shoes left behind by Justice Scalia. This is much like a baseball team losing its star player. The face of the team may change, the strategy of the team may change, the success of the team may even change, but the other players do not pack up and go home.

Second, this has been a great opportunity for me to remember the importance of seeing things from someone else’s perspective. Right off the bat I was thinking that I hope there will be some way for the Republicans to delay the confirmation of a new justice until after the election. There is no guarantee how the election will turn out, of course, but there is at least a chance that a Republican will win, which would also greatly increase the likelihood of the new justice being more in line with the positions held by Scalia than any justice appointed by President Obama. Mitch McConnell announced right away that he thought the new justice should not be appointed until after the election, and others were saying the same thing. President Obama, of course, indicated that he would appoint a justice. On Sunday evening it occurred to me that if the situation was reversed and there were a Republican in the White House right now I have no doubt that I, Mitch McConnell, and many others would be advocating for an appointment and confirmation before the election. It was rather like remembering that I cannot only like and defend free speech when it is speech I agree with and approve of. The beauty of free speech is just that–it is free, meaning you can advocate whatever you want no matter how much I do not like it, and I can do the same no matter how much you do not like it. I am not saying I want President Obama to appoint the next justice, but I cannot in good conscience argue that he should not, or that his appointment should not be confirmed if qualified.

The third point is somewhat similar to the first one but is important enough on its own that it needs to be stated separately. No one’s hope is in–or should be in–originalism, conservatism or any other philosophy or ideology of man. Neither is it in any human being, politician, judge, theologian or anything else–including Antonin Scalia. Psalm 146:3 says, in the Good News Translation, “Don’t put your trust in human leaders; no human being can save you.” One reason not to put trust in them is that they, as Matthew Poole wrote, “are utterly unable frequently to give you that help which they promise, and you expect.” Antonin Scalia was a wonderful Supreme Court judge, but his power and influence was limited. He was also a flawed human being. In his Notes on the Bible Albert Barnes comments on Psalm 146:3 this way: “Rely on God rather than on man, however exalted he may be. There is a work of protection and salvation which no man, however exalted he may be, can perform for you; a work which God alone, who is the Maker of all things, and who never dies, can accomplish.” If Justice Scalia had lived to be 150 and remained on the Supreme Court for that entire time, he could not have ever accomplished anything that would save anyone, eternally speaking.

Albert Mohler was correct; a giant has fallen. But that giant was a human being. A giant in the legal realm, yes. Still–and Albert Mohler would wholeheartedly agree with me, so do not read this as me suggesting that he said anything otherwise–whether or not I like the person who assumes the seat vacated by Scalia, whether or not that person is an originalist or an activist judge, is not where my priority should be. Whether or not Antonin Scalia is on the Supreme Court does not matter, eternally speaking. What matters is that God is still on the throne–and in Him will I place my trust and my hope.

July 22, 2014

“The biggest obstacle”

I do not really want to address the topic of the transgender movement in the United States but it appears I do not have much choice because it is an issue that is not going away. According to studies by the Public Religion Research Institute only 9% of Americans say they have a close friend or family member who is transgender. And that number may even be a bit high, because other studies indicate that only 0.5% of the American population is transgender. And yet, the issue of accepting the choices of transgender individuals and granting them special privileges and “rights” in accordance with those choices is potentially going to impact us all.

In South Dakota, where I live, the state’s high school activities association just last month approved a policy whereby students shall have the opportunity to participate in the association’s activities “in a manner that is consistent with their gender identity, irrespective of the gender listed on the student’s records.” Therein, of course, we find the root of the problem. For millennia human beings have identified, within moments of birth, the gender of the baby just born. Ever since the advent of birth certificates that information has been recorded officially. And rarely, if ever, has there been any question as to whether that identification was up for debate. Now, apparently, it is.

The June 9, 2014 issue of TIME featured a cover image of a transgender individual who stars on the television show Orange Is the New Black and a feature article entitled “America’s Transition.” This individual, Laverne Cox, has become, according to the piece, “a public face of the transgender movement.” I am going to elaborate later on why the entire notion of transgender is a problem. First, though, I want to touch on a statement Katy Steinmetz includes in the second paragraph of her TIME article. Here it is…

Almost one year after the Supreme Court ruled that Americans were free to marry the person they loved, no matter their sex, another civil rights movement is poised to challenge long-held cultural norms and beliefs. Transgender people–those who identify with a gender other than the sex they were “assigned at birth,” to use the preferred phrase among trans activists–are emerging from the margins to fight for an equal place in society. This new transparency is improving the lives of a long misunderstood minority and beginning to yield new policies, as trans activists and their supporters push for change in schools, hospitals, workplaces, prisons and the military.

There are an incredible number of problems contained right there in those few sentences. First of all, the Supreme Court did not, in fact, rule that Americans are free to marry whomever they love, but I’ll get way off track if I follow that tangent, so let’s just leave that one there. Secondly, as I have argued repeatedly in the past, homosexual “marriage” is not a civil rights issue. Neither are transgender rights. In fact, as I will argue later, the entire notion of transgender individuals being entitled to any special privileges or treatment at all based on their “gender identity” is ridiculous. Third, the paragraph above does accurately link the tremendous strides made by homosexual activists to achieve “rights” for homosexuals to the now-burgeoning movement among transgender activists. Again, as I have argued before, once we redefine what has been accepted for the entirety of human history as marriage we are, for all intents and purposes, jumping onto a slippery slope that will result in all kinds of redefinitions and changes.

Fourth, the notion that gender is “assigned” is a very clever and subtle choice of wording that is designed to convince us that gender and body parts are in no way connected. More on that later, too. Fifth, Steinmetz states that transgender individuals are emerging in order to “fight for an equal place in society.” This is clever wording, too, because who would not be in favor of someone receiving equal treatment and an equal place? After all, equality is a major part of what our nation was founded on, right? Transgender individuals, however, do not want an equal place in society. Instead, they want a special place. They want to receive unique and privileged treatment based on their personal choices. Sixth, and finally, whether or not this “new transparency” is really yielding any improvement in the lives of transgender individuals is debatable, but the policies being adopted to cater to transgender folks are indeed going to touch us all eventually.

A few paragraphs later Steinmetz writes that “the biggest obstacle” faced by transgender individuals is that they “live in a world largely built on a fixed and binary definition of gender.” Very subtle, and intentional, wording there, too–notice that the “binary definition” by which mankind has lived since God created Adam and Eve is an “obstacle” to these individuals living life the way they want to live it. Guess what? There are plenty of obstacles that prevent every one of us from doing things we would like to do on a regular basis. For example, I would like to be able to jump off of the roof of a building a fly–or at the very least enjoy a relaxing downward descent and a soft landing. The “obstacle” of gravity seems to prevent that, though. I would prefer to drive to town doing 100 miles an hour. The road is straight and flat and there is seldom any traffic, but the “SPEED LIMIT 65” signs that stand along the road are obstacles to me doing what I want. I would prefer to have a Porsche in my garage without the cost of buying, insuring or driving one, but life simply doesn’t work that way. Maybe those are silly examples but I challenge you to take a moment and think about all of the “obstacles” that you have to live within each and every day. Take me up on that and I suspect you will literally find dozens of them.

This is a discussion that I am, sadly, just beginning. The next several posts will address this topic, so stay tuned.

September 12, 2013

They Do Exist

It is almost impossible to keep track of all of the designated months there are in the United States. Just a few of the many, ranging from the well-known to the obscure, include National Mentoring Month, American Heart Month, Black History Month, National Nutrition Month, National Women’s History Month, National Poetry Month, Child Abuse Prevention Month, National Pet Month, National Safety Month, Smart Irrigation Month, National Immunization Awareness Month, National Guide Dog Month, National Honey Month, Domestic Violence Awareness Month, COPD Awareness Month, and, according to one list I’ve seen, there are three LGBT months–LGBT Awareness Month, LGBT Pride Month and LGBT History Month. So maybe it will not surprise you to know that September 2013 is the first of what is sure to become the annual Ex-Gay Awareness Month.

There is a dinner and reception to celebrate this special month being held somewhere in Washington, D.C. on September 30, but the exact location is not disclosed until you register for the event, as organizers no doubt fear opposition and disruption. The event will “celebrate the lives of former homosexuals and hear about how you can advance and bring awareness to their unique stories and achievements in our nation’s schools,” and is sponsored by PFOX, Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays and Gays.

There is also a group called Voice of the Voiceless that exists to “defend the rights of former homosexuals, individuals with unwanted same-sex attraction, and their families.” The “About Us” section of their web site says, “It’s time to stand up, speak out, and unite! For too long former homosexuals, individuals who experience unwanted same-sex attraction (SSA), and their families have been marginalized and misrepresented. We have suffered enough abuse in the media who sing praises to the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community, and condemn former homosexuals and those who experience unwanted SSA.” The group calls educational and mental health organizations “one-sided clapping symphonies” that serve only to affirm homosexuals and homosexual behavior and to oppose those who believe homosexuality is both a choice and able to be overcome.

At the end of July a group of former homosexuals joined together outside the U.S. Supreme Court to demand that they be recognized and granted equal protection under the Constitution. Their assertion is that homosexuals and homosexual activists bully ex-gays and those who oppose homosexuality and even prey on children by introducing homosexuality in a positive light in children’s television programming. The group has a petition demanding (1) Media oversight and accountability to protect children from age inappropriate entertainment such as SheZow that violates their innocence; (2) Freedom of choice for youth to pursue counseling to overcome same sex attraction; and (3) Inclusion of former homosexuals under federal hate crimes law.

Petitions seem to be, at the moment, the groups activity of choice, and its web site includes links to the various petitions the group has started, including one to demand an apology from CBS for “Defaming Former Homosexuals, Persons with Unwanted Same-Sex Attractions, Their Families and Counselors, and the Judeo-Christian Community” in February 2013 episode of Criminal Minds, one that demands that Washington, D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray apologize to singer Donnie McClurkin (an ex-gay) for asking him to withdraw from singing at a 50th anniversary celebration of the March on Washington because the event was intended to “bring people together,” another demanding that television personality Dr. Phil “Publicly Apologize to the Ex-Gay and Faith-Based Community for his Intolerance Towards Traditional Biblical Views of Homosexual Behavior,” and more.

If you’re like me it no doubt strikes you as sad and, frankly, pathetic, that a group of ex-anythings would need to solicit protection for their right not to be abused or discriminated against for former lifestyle choices, but apparently this is the world in which we now find ourselves. Not only does the “tolerance” espoused by the political left and the political correctness police demand that those holding to a biblical perspective on homosexuality and lifestyle choices not speak out about their position, it further demands that those who have personally rejected that lifestyle choice keep their mouths shut. At the July gathering outside the Supreme Court Christopher Doyle of Voice of the Voiceless said, “Anti-ex-gay extremists say that I do not exist–that we don’t exist.” Of course they do exist, and trying to shout them down in the public arena will not change that…just like the oft-repeated position that homosexuals are “born that way” and have no choice in the matter does not make that position true.

June 26, 2013

News From the North

I have written in this space on numerous occasions about the inevitable result of legalizing same-sex marriage in the United States (or anywhere, for that matter) and the fact that if marriage is going to be redefined no one will be able to stop that redefinition at men marrying men and women marrying women. Once what has always been (marriage being between one man and one woman) is no more, there is no longer any legitimate way to prevent further redefinition. I have specifically warned about the potential for polygamous marriages seeking legal recognition, or what some have now started calling “polyamory.” Well, just across our border to the north our Canadian cousins are now seeking just that.

My Christian Daily includes a report today entitled “Polyamorists want legal recognition in Canada,” a report that begins with this statement: “A group of polyamorists say they want the same legal status as other relationships, following the group’s first national convention in Canada.” According to the report, “The group defines polyamory as having ‘more than one intimate relationship at a time with the knowledge and consent of everyone involved,'” and “[t]he group say they ‘live all gender combinations’, and are ‘queer-friendly’.”

This is incredibly relevant given that the U.S. Supreme Court is expected to rule today on two cases involving homosexual marriage. According to the Chicago Tribune, “The court was due to rule on the constitutionality of a federal law that denies benefits to same-sex married couples and a California state law that bans gay marriage. Those cases, argued in March, could shape the debate over whether gay men and women should have the right to marry.” As just described above, though, the decision will have ramifications beyond just that–if they rule that homosexual marriage is acceptable, they will throw the door wide open for an unlimited number of possible redefinitions of marriage. The Tribune reports that most experts believe it unlikely that the Court will issue “a broad decision proclaiming a fundamental right for gays to marry.” And while I agree that it is unlikely, I am afraid that I have found it difficult at best to predict what SCOTUS will decide on most cases, so I am not at all celebrating right now.

Then-president Bill Clinton signed the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) into law in 1996 after it passed Congress with overwhelming support. Earlier this year he notably called for DOMA to be overturned because, he said, times have changed since he signed the law, and homosexuals should now have the right to marry. Times have changed in that homosexuality is much more openly portrayed and accepted in American culture, particularly in Hollywood, but at the same time times have not changed in that human beings, in their sin natures, will always seek to ignore, manipulate, redefine and avoid God’s Word, which has not changed, and will not change, and clearly states that homosexuality is a sin.

The justices are expected to meet just minutes from now as I am writing in order to announce their rulings. We need to be in prayer now and continue to be in prayer after the rulings are announced, whatever those rulings may be, because even if the biblical definition of marriage is retained today, it will continue to be under attack tomorrow.

March 16, 2013

A sad, unfortunate and poorly timed reversal

If you follow the news you have probably already heard that Ohio Senator Rob Portman has very publicly changed his position regarding gay marriage in recent days. Portman has always been a staunch opponent of gay marriage; in 1996, as a member of the House of Representatives, he was a cosponsor of the Defense of Marriage Act; in 1999 he voted for a measure that would have prohibited same-sex couples in Washington state from adopting children; in 2011 hundreds of students at the University of Michigan protested having Portman speak at the school’s graduation ceremony because of his position on gay marriage. In response to that protest, Portman’s spokesman said, “Rob believes marriage is a sacred bond between one man and one woman.”

So what changed? Well, two things. One, Portman’s son “came out,” informing his parents in 2011 that he is gay. Two, this revelation caused Portman to “think of this issue from a new perspective,” he told Ohio reporters.

Senator’s Portman’s son’s sexuality is none of my business; it is a private matter–or at least it was, until his father brought it into the public square to explain his own sad, unfortunate and poorly timed reversal on the issue of gay marriage. And I do not choose those descriptors lightly. Allow me to explain….

The reversal is sad because, based on his own explanations, Portman has allowed the circumstances of his life to cause him to reinterpret Scripture, and to do so inaccurately. Here’s how it worked: Portman believed the Bible was clear in its opposition to homosexuality and its teaching that marriage is between a man and a woman (he was right on both counts); Portman’s son informed his parents he is gay; Portman loves his son; Portman faces moral dilemma; Portman solves moral dilemma by deciding Scripture means something different than what it does, and what he had previously believed it did.

The reversal is sad because Portman decided that it was easier to embrace a false understanding of the very Word of God than it would be to stand firm in his convictions. It is easier to say God is love, and must surely want people to be happy than it is for Portman to tell his son that he loves him, but he hates his sin.

Yesterday Portman wrote a commentary in The Columbus Dispatch. In it he states that his son’s announcement has caused him to think about this issue in “a much deeper way.” Translation: I was opposed to gay marriage until I found out my son is gay, but my love for my son trumps my adherence to the Word of God. Portman writes that his son told him that “his sexual orientation wasn’t something he chose; it is simply a part of who he is.” I am sure Portman’s son may believe that, and Portman may believe it, too. I have written here before about the issue of “homosexual orientation,” and I am not going to rehash that now. (Desire and Deceit, an excellent book on the subject by Albert Mohler addresses this issue, too). According to Portman, “At the time, my position on marriage for same-sex couples was rooted in my faith tradition that marriage is a sacred bond between a man and a woman. Knowing that my son is gay prompted me to consider the issue from another perspective: that of a dad who wants all three of his kids to lead happy, meaningful lives with the people they love, a blessing Jane and I have shared for 26 years.”

Every parent wants–or at least should want–their children to love “happy, meaningful lives.” But part of tough love–in other words, part of being a parent–means standing firm when the way in which a child wants to live that life is contrary to what is God-honoring. Portman’s reasoning is exactly the same as that that I have challenged here repeatedly regarding the slippery slope that is the issue of gay marriage. Portman wants his son to be happy, Portman’s son is gay, so gay marriage should be okay? That’s absurd. What do we do when someone’s else’s son claims that what makes him happy is having sex with children? What do we do when someone’s daughter says that what makes her happy is the challenge of stealing and exploiting someone’s identity? What do we do when someone’s child says that what makes him or her happy is taking the lives of other humans whom they find to be unattractive, undesirable, or just plain irritating? Yes, yes, I know…those are not the same things, many will say. They are not the same actions, true–but they are all choices people make.

Portman continues, “I wrestled with how to reconcile my Christian faith with my desire for Will to have the same opportunities to pursue happiness and fulfillment as his brother and sister. Ultimately, it came down to the Bible’s overarching themes of love and compassion and my belief that we are all children of God.” There’s nothing wrong with such a wrestling match. What is wrong is realizing that the two cannot be reconciled and so deciding that the “Christian faith” should be reinterpreted in order to make it work out alright in the end. Does the Bible have an overarching theme of love and compassion? Yes. But only because the Bible also has an overarching theme of justice and holiness. We cannot accurately understand the love of God without accurately understanding the justice and holiness of God. Because He is a God of holiness, He cannot tolerate sin or have it in His presence. Because He is a God of justice, sin has a penalty that must be paid. Once we understand that, we can understand God’s love–His incredible, indescribable, truly awesome love that caused Him to send His only Son to pay the price for the sins of humanity because none of us can pay it ourselves. What the Bible clearly does not teach, Senator Portman, is that God’s love and compassion means God wants us to do whatever makes us happy. Are we all the children of God? In so far as He made us all, yes. In so far as we will all go to heaven? Not even close.

As far as I know all three of Portman’s children are grown, but can you imagine sitting down to tell them that what they had been taught and raised to believe was God’s Truth was actually wrong? “Well kids, your mom and I made a mistake. So did the pastor, and the Sunday school teacher, and, well, most of the Bible teachers we have respected over the years. Remember what we taught you about homosexuality? Turns out we were wrong. See, your brother is gay. Yes…that’s right. Your brother…our son. And he surely did not choose to be that way. It is just the way he is. It is the way God made Him, apparently. So, we have been wrong. Now that we know your brother is gay we can see it all clearly. We just never understood before. But gay people really love each other, and they deserve to happy just like everyone else. Just because your brother is attracted to men does not mean that he should be denied the right to marry when he finally finds the man he wants to spend the rest of his life with…..” You get the idea. Do you see it, though? Portman is saying that because his son is gay, God must surely think it’s okay.

Portman goes on to make one of the more idiotic statements on gay marriage I have ever heard: “One way to look at it is that gay couples’ desire to marry doesn’t amount to a threat but rather a tribute to marriage, and a potential source of renewed strength for the institution.” Uh, yeah…that’s one way to look at it alright. One very wrong, misguided, and–sorry, Senator–stupid way to look at it.

Portman’s lack of conviction (lack of spine?) is further evidenced in the following paragraph of his commentary, when he writes this: “Around the country, family members, friends, neighbors and coworkers have discussed and debated this issue, with the result that today twice as many people support marriage for same-sex couples as when the Defense of Marriage Act was signed into law 17 years ago by President Bill Clinton, who now opposes it. With the overwhelming majority of young people in support of allowing gay couples to marry, in some respects the issue has become more generational than partisan.” So, since most people think the idea is okay, it must be okay then. Sure. Another ridiculous argument. God’s Word does not fluctuate with the opinions of the people in America (or anywhere else). God’s Word is the same yesterday, today and forever, and it is absolutely clear on the fact that homosexuality is sin, it is an abomination. Of course, we do live in a representative democracy in the U.S., so the opinions of the people can change the law. If that does happen it will not make it right, though, and Bible-believers need to do everything we can to oppose such a change.

And herein is why Portman’s reversal is so poorly timed: the Supreme Court will soon be hearing arguments on the Defense of Marriage Act, and Portman joins the rising throng of people advocating it being overturned. The only thing Portman gets right in his commentary is his suggestion that the courts, and right now the Supreme Court in particular, should not decide this issue. “I believe change should come about through the democratic process in the states. Judicial intervention from Washington would circumvent that process as it’s moving in the direction of recognizing marriage for same-sex couples. An expansive court ruling would run the risk of deepening divisions rather than resolving them.” I agree with that statement. The Supreme Court needs to find only that the Defense of Marriage Act was passed lawfully and is constitutional, and leave the rest up to “we the people.” The Supreme Court must not legislate from the bench and declare gay marriage to be constitutional.

February 27, 2013

Not going away

The issue of homosexual marriage is not going away anytime soon…which means it will not go away as a topic for this blog, either. It is an issue that is too important to ignore, an issue on which we cannot remain silent.

First of all, I need to state that I am a firm believer in the system of government established in the United States, and despite the fact that I am not always pleased with the decisions that are made or the speed with which they are (or are not) made, I think the system generally works the way the founders designed it to work, and I think they knew what they were doing. In fact, if our elected officials were held accountable for adhering to the requirements that are in place for them, things would work even better.

On that note, despite the fact that I am not an extremist by any means and would ordinarily hesitate to call for something as drastic as the impeachment of the president, President Obama should have been impeached the moment that he announced the he was instructing the Department of Justice not to enforce the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). The Constitution (in Article 2, Section One, Clause Eight) requires that the president take the this oath upon being sworn in to office: “I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.” Of course, though not constitutionally required, every president has added “So help me God” at the end of the oath, following the example set by George Washington at the very first inauguration. So why should President Obama have been impeached? Because he violated his oath, and has been violating it ever since. He cannot “faithfully execute” the duties of his office if he is instructing the Justice Department to not enforce a law that was passed by Congress and signed by a previous president. Whether he likes or agrees with the law or not does not matter one bit; it is the law, and he is sworn to uphold it. Even worse, the DOJ has gone beyond not enforcing the DOMA to actively opposing it. The Congress has had to hire lawyers to defend the DOMA in court against the DOJ! Interestingly, even Steve Weinstein, EDGE Editor-in-Chief, writing on South Florida Gay News, acknowledged that the president is not upholding it responsibilities: “The House has been voting extraordinary funds to fight DOMA repeal on its own, thus making for a historic clash between a presidency that refuses to defend a law (as the Constitution mandates him to do) on the one hand; and a legislative body taking extra-legislative action by intervening in the courts.”

Now, just last Friday, the DOJ filed an amicus curiae (friend of the court) brief with the Supreme Court, urging the Court to strike down elements of the DOMA. Why should the DOMA be struck down? Because “the broad consensus in the scientific community is that, for the vast majority of people (gay and straight alike), sexual orientation is not a voluntary choice.” This statement itself is a lie, but let’s ignore that. After all, the Obama administration could have found a certain segment of the “scientific community,” the majority of which does assert this claim. (Rather like all the toothpaste commercials that claim that 4 out of 5 dentists recommend their brand, right? After all, if you line up enough of them and stick to it long enough, you could find 4 out of 5 people that would recommend or support just about anything).

It is further evidence of an increasing trend by President Obama and his administration to assert in less-than-veiled terms, however, that those who disagree with their position are, well, stupid. He has taken the same approach to his arguments for addressing climate change, too. In his State of the Union address on February 12 President Obama said that climate change is “the overwhelming judgment of science.” He used the same phrase in his second inaugural address when he said, “We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations. Some may still deny the overwhelming judgment of science….”

Back to the DOMA, though, the Supreme Court will hear Harvard Law School professor Vicki C. Jackson argue that it does not even have the authority to hear the case United States v. Windsor since the Obama administration has chosen to stop enforcing DOMA. According to the Harvard Crimson, “Jackson will assert that because the Obama administration has chosen to no longer defend the 1996 law, agreeing with the decision made by a lower court that it is invalid, the court does not have the authority to rule on the case.” So, if the president decides not to enforce a law the Supreme Court cannot even hear cases on it? That’s ridiculous. That flies in the face of the very purpose of the checks and balances system established by our Constitution. If this line of reasoning is followed, we will be well on the way to an autocratic presidency.

Equally troubling–perhaps even more so–is that the Obama DOJ has also asserted in its amicus curiae brief that the lawfully enacted DOMA must be struck down and homosexual marriage must be both granted and protected, the will of the people be damned. Specifically, the brief argues that, in this instance, the Court must not allow the will of the people to run its course. “That approach would be very well taken in most circumstances. This is, however, the rare case in which deference to the democratic process must give way to the fundamental constitutional command of equal treatment under law. Section 3 of DOMA targets the many gay and lesbian people legally married under state law for a harsh form of discrimination that bears no relation to their ability to contribute to society. It is abundantly clear that this discrimination does not substantially advance an interest in protecting marriage, or any other important interest. The statute simply cannot be reconciled with the Fifth Amendment’s guarantee of equal protection. The Constitution therefore requires that Section 3 be invalidated.”

The Constitution requires no such thing. President Obama and his administration are asserting that they know better than the Congress, than the people of the United States, and than the very Constitution of the United States.

Last year Senators Orrin Hatch, Saxby Chambliss, Dan Coats, Thad Cochrane, Mike Crapo, Charles Grassley, Lindsey Graham, Mitch McConnell, Richard Shelby and Roger Wicker filed an amicus curiae brief of their own in the case of Golinski v. Office of Personnel Management on an appeal being heard in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Their brief provides an excellent overview of the history of DOMA and the danger of seeing struck down by the Court for reasons that are not constitutional. (If you’re interested, you can read the brief here: http://www.hatch.senate.gov/public/_cache/files/d78e55fd-f3bd-459e-b424-9875aabf9ddd/Amicus%20Brief%20of%20US%20Senators%20in%20Golinski%20final.pdf).

Former attorneys general Edwin Meese III and John Ashcroft also filed an amicus brief with the court in the Golinski case, arguing that the Obama administration had seriously erred in its decision not to enforce DOMA, and that because of its unprecedented actions in failing to support the law of the land, its opinions must not be given much weight in the deciding of the case. “Due to the historical landscape addressed above, and the fifteen year history of DOJ’s defense of DOMA, the decision to change course and challenge DOMA’s constitutionality should be viewed as an extreme and unprecedented deviation from the historical norm and, as such, the persuasive weight afforded to DOJ’s brief should be less than in the typical case.”

I could go on, here, but I will stop, because this is already getting lengthy and because there is plenty of information out there already that you can read if you want to explore this subject in more detail. Bottom line, we have a President who is violating his oath of office by refusing to enforce a law that was passed by Congress and signed by a previous president, and we now have him using his DOJ to actively oppose the law in court in an effort to see the law ruled unconstitutional. We need to pray for the nine men and women on the Supreme Court. Specifically, we need to pray that they will hear the case and that they will rule that the DOMA is constitutional, and the president and the DOJ must enforce it.

June 29, 2012

God is in Control

Filed under: Politics/Current Events — jbwatson @ 3:57 pm
Tags: , ,

Just about every news and social media outlet in the country has been crackling since yesterday with the news of the Supreme Court’s decision in the so-called Obamacare case and the House of Representatives’ vote to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt. Most pundits–on both sides of the aisle–are saying that yesterday’s SCOTUS (Supreme Court of the United States) decision is the most important decision since Bush v. Gore in 2000. Others have said that Chief Justice John Roberts has demonstrated his independence and refusal to be swayed by partisan politics. Others have said he abandoned the president who appointed him (George W. Bush), and still others have said he has proven to be the next Robert Jackson, the Attorney General-turned-Supreme Court justice who demonstrated that he was not beholden to any political party in deciding cases. And, of course, still others have asserted that the five justices who decided the majority opinion have destroyed the Constitution. And, perhaps most interestingly in a purely theoretical/academic sense is the fact that the SCOTUS opinion says that mandated health care is permissible as a tax–whereas President Obama has asserted repeatedly that it is not a tax. Interesting…

On the same day that this decision came down the House of Representatives voted to find Attorney General Holder in contempt for the manner in which he has handled congressional investigation into the Justice Department’s “Fast and Furious” operation. This is the first time in U.S. history that a sitting attorney general has been found in contempt of Congress. Holder, of course, has called the vote politically motivated, though seventeen Democrats voted in favor of the contempt citation (while two Republicans opposed it). Perhaps more troubling, however, is that 100 Democrat members of the House walked out–including all 42 members of the Congressional Black Caucus–and refused to vote at all. According to a letter sent by the caucus to colleagues, the Republican leadership in the House failed to provide a legislative purpose for the vote, and therefore, said the caucus members, they “cannot and will not participate in a vote to hold the attorney general in contempt.” There were, by the way, two separate votes, finding the AG Holder in both criminal and civil contempt, by votes of 255-67 and 258-95 respectively. (Purely as a side note, I have to wonder how any member of Congress can believe that a vote to hold the sitting attorney general in contempt has no legislative purpose, yet similar votes for professional athletes who lied or were less than forthcoming in congressional investigations into the use of performance-enhancing drugs in professional sports is clearly fine. Just saying….)

Anyway, if you logged in hoping to get my take on either of these matters, I am going to disappoint you, because, one, I try to avoid being overtly partisan/political in this space, and two, I have not yet had time to read or fully digest the ramifications of the SCOTUS decision and I want to avoid making uninformed comments on the decision.

What I do have to say, though, is that regardless of which side of either of these issues you or I may be on, and regardless of what the short or long-term implications of either decision will be, God is in control!

Proverbs 21:1 says, “The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the LORD; he turns it wherever he will” (ESV). We may not have a king in the United States, by the hearts of presidents, justices and members of Congress are just as much in God’s control as the hearts of kings. Furthermore, the power that is exercised by those individuals and bodies is granted to them by God–and they cannot do anything that He will not allow. Romans 13:1 says, “Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God” (KJV). Jesus Himself, when questioned by Pilate, said, “You would have no authority over me at all unless it had been given you from above” (John 19:11, ESV).

Nothing that happened yesterday, that happens today, or that will happen tomorrow, catches God by surprise. Man can do nothing that God does not allow. Not necessarily, by the way, that God desires, but that God allows. Politics and public policy are important…but they are not the most important thing, and they will not save anyone. We should be informed and be involved, and most of all we should pray–see I Timothy 2–but regardless of what happens we must not be overwhelmed or defeated, because God is in control, and in Him is our hope!

June 7, 2012

Violation of an Oath

For those of you who keep current with political news the topic I am about to address, yes, I realize that the topic I am about to address is a few months old. It is not that I am just becoming aware of it. In fact, I was “hot on it’s trail” when it happened…but I decided to put it on the back burner and address it later after I had had some time to “cool down,” so angry did this news make me.

I am well aware of the fact that I tend to pay more attention to politics and care more passionately about it than the average citizen, and so I may get riled up over things that others may not even notice. But if this one goes unnoticed we have a serious problem.

See, in February, U.S. Supreme Court justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg visited Egypt, and while she was there she took a swipe at the U.S. Constitution. She said, “I would not look to the U.S. Constitution if I were drafting a constitution in the year 2012.” Instead, she suggested that the constitution of South Africa might be a better model, since it “embraced basic human rights [and] had an independent judiciary.” Justice Ginsburg has also been known to express admiration for the Canadian Charter of Rights and the European Convention of Human Rights.

One of the reasons Ginsburg has expressed discontent with the U.S. Constitution is that it originally excluded women, slaves and Native Americans. (Of course, until recently, South Africa excluded blacks, too). I don’t think anyone would argue that the the U.S. Constitution is perfect. It was wrong to tolerate slavery and to exclude the vote from women and other minorities. Those flaws have, thankfully, been corrected. Therein, however, lies part of the beauty of our Constitution; it allows for corrections and amendments.

I do not fault Ginsburg for suggesting the a newly-forming representative democracy look at a field that does not contain the U.S. Constitution exclusively while preparing to draft its own constitution. What I do find egregious is her suggestion that the U.S. Constitution not be looked at at all. Notice she did not say that she would not look exclusively at our Constitution; she said, “I would not look to the U.S. Constitution.”

By the way, are Canada and the EU really examples we should encourage other countries to follow? The freedom of speech in Canada is under attack pretty regularly. The Bill of Rights of Kenya–which was drafted by later-Supreme-Court-justice Thurgood Marshall and is based on the European Convention on Human Rights, guarantees rights to health, welfare and work. We have already seen what has happened in other countries (including Canada and the many members of the EU) who have included rights to health and seen it necessary to provide state-run health care systems in order to do so–and we see now what that looks like as Barack Obama tries to institute the same thing here. We have seen the economies of many European nations crumble as their debts have spiraled out of control, due in no small part to the right to work and absurd guarantees for workers. See, here’s the paradox of socialism: when it becomes essentially impossible to fire someone there is no longer any incentive for someone to work. Look at recent strikes in Spain and riots in Greece, among other examples.

How does any of this relate to her oath, by the way? Well, Supreme Court justices have to take two oaths of office, and if you want to read all of the particulars you can do so on the Supreme Court’s web site (supremecourt.gov). Part of the first oath, which is taken by all federal employees, reads, “I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same.” When a justice publicly (and in front of international audience, at that) says that she would not refer the U.S. Constitution if she were drafting a constitution today, it stretches the imagination to think how that can be consistent with supporting or defending the Constitution, or bearing allegiance to it.

Am I suggesting that Justice Ginsburg should be impeached? Not necessarily. But I think her comments are troubling, and I think they point to two very important demands that “we the people” must make of our senators: (1) the responsibility of approving nominations to the Supreme Court must be taken seriously, and we must demand that our justices be faithful to the Constitution; and (2) we have to have justices who see the Constitution as a living document, able to be changed when appropriate and within the prescribed channels, but who will interpret the Constitution with faithfulness to the intent of the Founders and the people. It’s time we say “enough” to those who want to remake our Constitution from the bench to have it more closely resemble those of other nations.

Blog at WordPress.com.