Getting Religion and Getting Informed (today, related to women, and men too.)

Happy Friday, Salvo Blog Readers. Put on some fresh afternoon coffee before you read any farther, because you’ve got yourself a few rabbit trails to follow and it may be a while before you surface.

Get Religion is a site dedicated to the critique of the coverage of religious topics in the mainstream press. It doesn’t preach, it doesn’t yell, it simply combs through a given piece, identifying bias—in exaggeration, alarmism, omission, and word choice—crossing over to other resources to reveal the fundamental facts (or lack thereof).

Rife with commentary on both weak and strong examples of clear, fair journalism, Get Religion is a worthy addition to your morning blog cycle.

Today, complete with links to several in-depth articles with long Comments sections, Get Religion (check the comments here too!) has posts up that are of interest and importance to men and women alike, but especially prescient to the issues women of faith face as they navigate their lives and roles in Western culture.

Like this piece, which examines one instance of the media vilification of religious leaders who oppose the HHS Mandate. Watch out for a link in the middle, to a source that questions the validity of the oft-cited Guttmacher Institute stat on birth control use among Catholic women. Say you are the 2%…or say you’re not so alone after all.

And this one, in which a comment from Cherie Blair about careers and children makes us wonder, as we often do, about doing best by our families and our vocations, and the distinction between “having it all” and “having enough.” Don’t neglect the links here either, and be sure to speak up if you have something you want to say.

“Jesus, what are we doing?”

No one survives an abortion encounter unscathed. Even though he’d been raised in a family that was “thoroughly pro-abortion” and believed that abortion was “always the best option,” after his wife’s abortion, one post-abortive father was surprised by his own reaction. Despite the fact that he’d wanted it, insisting on it so vehemently he’d threatened to leave her if she didn’t consent to it:

“I found that I felt guilty, like I’d stepped over a line that shouldn’t have been crossed. There was also a feeling of dread, of impending doom. I sensed that some sort of divine punishment was waiting for me, and it was frightening.”

Dr. Arthur Shostak, who describes himself as “unswervingly pro-choice,” also confessed distress after involvement in an abortion:

“While I believe my lover and I chose the least-worst of the options available to us over two decades ago, I have lingering regrets about the situation.”

And that paragon of virtue, Steven Tyler, wrote this about witnessing his girlfriend’s abortion, which he also had coerced under threat of abandonment:

“It was a big crisis. … they put the needle in her belly and they squeeze the stuff in and you watch. And it comes out dead. I was pretty devastated. In my mind, I’m going, Jesus, what have I done?”

Jesus, what have I done? Whence cometh these reactions from decidedly pro-abortion fathers?

What have I done? indeed. One of the three, the one who opted to remain unnamed, eventually let that question penetrate his emotional defenses. But it wasn’t easy:

“I kept trying to find ways to run from that feeling of punishment. I wasn’t a Christian at the time, and I had no idea what I was feeling, or why. Our country’s lawmakers had made abortion legal, hadn’t they? They said everything was fine about it. So, why did I have these feelings? Why was my wife having these problems? During that time I started drinking more. I got more actively involved in sports. I did anything I could to try and cover up the feeling. I just wanted to quench it.

I didn’t want to think about the abortion or have anything to do with the subject, but my wife’s distress was a constant reminder. I tried to ignore her. If I allowed myself to believe that her problems were the result of the abortion, then I’d have to admit that what I did to her was wrong. I was very stubborn and very prideful. I had a heart like stone.

But one day I had a revelation. It was almost like someone removed scales from my eyes, allowing me to see clearly for the first time what I had done. My heart softened and I saw what abortion really was–not a solution to a problem, but the taking of an innocent life.”

He faced the difficult reality of it, and that opened the way for him to process the distress and lay it to rest for good:

“Several years later, my wife got involved with a post-abortion counseling ministry in the local area. One day they had a men’s outreach. I went, but I really didn’t want to share anything personal with this group of strangers. … But I took a chance. I opened my life to these Christian men and told them what I had done to my wife.

I expected anger . . . but what I found instead was compassion.

I expected judgment and condemnation . . . but what I found instead was forgiveness and acceptance.

I expected hatred . . . but what I found instead was Christ’s love being expressed through His people.”

His answer to post-abortion distress?

“Jesus truly is the only answer to post-abortion guilt.”

Father’s Day is this Sunday. Feminists will tell you that abortion is a women’s issue. It’s not. It’s about men just as much as it’s about women. Maybe more. Look at how all three of these pro-abortion men found themselves deeply troubled in the wake of a real abortion. Those feelings are saying something important. We would do well to listen to them.

For as much as loud voices of the day insist that everything’s fine with it, the conscience knows better. It’s not fine. The taking of an innocent life is never okay, and the conscience knows it. Face up to it, and Jesus can deal with the guilt of it. Ignore it, and it will remain. It’s as simple as that.

May God bless fathers today, including the post-abortive ones. May God inspire more men to face up to what we are doing. And lay the abortion holocaust to rest for good.

Related reading:

Day of Dialogue

This Friday, April 20th, marks the annual Day of Silence, an LGBT-espousing observance in America’s public schools and now on college campuses. Day of Silence was inaugurated twelve years ago by the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GSLEN). On this day, GLSEN encourages students to “take a vow of silence to bring attention to anti-LGBT name-calling, bullying and harassment in their schools.” The idea, as Michael Brown puts it, is “standing in solidarity with LGBT youth who are silenced through bullying and harassment.” Day of Silence activities are generally coordinated through GLSEN-organized student clubs called Gay Straight Alliances (GSAs).

But are LGBTs really forced into silence?

Consider this incident that played out over recent years. Scott Savage was a librarian on Ohio State University’s Mansfield campus. As a member of the university’s First Year Reading Experience Committee in 2006, he suggested four books for consideration as freshman reading. One of them was The Marketing of Evil, by David Kupelian, which contains one chapter on homosexuality. Three professors objected to the selection, but they didn’t stop at blackballing the book. They took great umbrage with Savage himself, as their subsequent actions revealed.

Two professors filed formal sexual harassment charges against him. One wrote to the OSU-Mansfield faculty that he was, “deeply saddened – and THREATENED … You have made me fearful and uneasy being a gay man on this campus. I am, in fact, notifying the OSU-M campus, and Ohio State University in general, that I no longer feel safe doing my job. I am being harassed.” Four days later the faculty voted unanimously (with nine abstentions) to put Savage under “investigation.”

“The fact that there are one or two unhinged professors out there – that’s not news,” said David French, the lead ADF attorney defending Savage. But the fact that, by a unanimous vote with nine abstentions, the faculty would classify a book recommendation as threatening sexual harassment warranting investigation suggests exorbitant pressure to silence certain views on homosexuality.

The next question becomes, Why?

Michael Brown relates a poignant admission from a young gay blogger named Matt. As he explains in his book, A Queer Thing Happened to America, Dr. Brown had conducted a public forum devoted to the theme, “Can You Be Gay and Christian?” Local gay and gay-affirming clergy had been invited to present their views and engage in public dialogue. Many declined, but Matt had attended, and before the evening was over, he took the microphone:

“You had some very good points, and they were couched in very compassionate language, but for a person like me, throughout this whole thing, all I’m going to hear is, ‘the queers need to die.’”

This is a breathtakingly candid confession. In other words, as Dr. Brown paraphrases, “No matter what you say, and no matter how compassionately you say it, I’m still going to hear hatred coming from your lips.”

This is why certain views on homosexuality must be silenced? Notice that the complaints, “All I’m going to hear is, ‘the queers need to die,’” I am being “threatened,” and “I no longer feel safe” are not responses to any name-calling, bullying, or harassment that took place in the specific incidents which gave rise to them. They’ve either been made up in pursuit of an agenda, or they’re coming from somewhere else. In Matt’s case, they’re coming from within. Either way, there clearly is suppressive silencing going on, but it’s taking place in the name of “anti-bullying.”

Reject Silence; Let’s Talk
A peaceful, silent statement against name-calling, bullying, and harassment is a fine thing. But there’s a better option than silence. For the second year in a row, many students are doing silence one better and, without name-calling, bullying, or harassment, engaging in a Day of Dialogue by being prepared to communicate the Judeo-Christian view of sexuality. “This event helps students have an equal opportunity and a safe space to express a faith-based point of view in a loving and respectful way,” said Candi Cushman, director of Day of Dialogue. According to the Day of Dialogue website:

The Day of Dialogue gives you, as a student, the opportunity to express the true model presented by Jesus Christ in the Bible—who didn’t back away from speaking truth, but neither held back in pouring out His incredible, compassionate love for hurting and vulnerable people. His example calls us to stand up for those being harmed or bullied while offering the light of what God’s Word says.

Instead of remaining silent, an invitation is extended, Let’s talk! Teens are good at that anyway, and certainly something as important as sexuality deserves an open discussion.

“People were interested to get both sides,” said Kaitlin, a 16-year-old high school student in Michigan who participated last year. “They were open and really wondering what we had to say. God has the best purpose for us, even when we may not know it on our own.”

Yes, God has the best purpose for us. So this year consider saying No to silence, and instead, say Yes to dialogue.

Related Reading:

Sasha of the Secret Gender

A few days ago I posted about the movement to make toy stores gender neutral. I wish I could say that gender neutrality is limited to toy stores like London’s Hamleys. Alas, no. Earlier this year the UK newsletters were full of stories about the case of little Sasha Laxton. Before the child was born, the parents had determined that their child would be called Sasha regardless of whether “it” turned out to be a boy or a girl. And just to prove to themselves the unimportance of gender, after labor was over the parents waited 30 minutes before asking midwives what gender their child was.

For five years Sasha’s gender was a carefully guarded secret. The parents referred to their child as simply “the infant”, scrupulously avoided gender-loaded pronouns like “he” or “she.” They were also careful about dress. One day Sasha’s parents would dress him in striped trousers, the next in a sparkly pink tutu with fairy wings and ballet shoes. Moreover, the Laxton’s home became a gender neutral zone as the parents desperately attempted to shield their child from society’s prejudices and preconceptions.

Sasha was eventually ‘outed’ as a male just before beginning school.

Just to show that their experiment in gender neutrality had achieved the desired result, the parents posted a 90-second Youtube clip where Sasha and his mother can be seen walking along a road near their home in Cambridgeshire. Sasha’s mother, Beck, asks her son if he thinks there are any differences between boys and girls. “No,” Sasha replies. The mother presses her son with a barrage of other questions, like “do girls like pink and boys like blue?” In each cases Sasha gives the only correct answer for someone who has been indoctrinated with the stereotype of gender neutrality: no, no, no.

The Laxton parents are not alone. In 2011 Kathy Witterick and David Stocker from Canada announced that they would not be revealing the gender of their third child, Storm. Only Storm’s siblings would know. Similarly, in Sweden a couple recently announced that the gender of their baby Pop would be a carefully guarded secret.

Sex Between Consenting Adults is Expensive

You’ve probably heard it a dozen times: “sex between consenting adults is nobody else’s business.” You may (and should) object to this statement on moral grounds. But recent evidence suggests that you should also object to this statement on economic grounds.

Last year Mr Brandon, author of the book Just Sex: is it Ever Just Sex?, used quantitative cost-analysis to disprove the mantra that “sex between consenting adults is no one else’s business.”

By using the category of ‘moral hazard’, he showed that British society has created a system that incentivizes promiscuity. Much of his research applies equally to American society.

“‘Moral Hazard’, he explains, “occurs when a contract or financial arrangement creates incentives for the parties involved to behave against the interest of others’ – typically because one party is insulated from risk.”

One of the ways British society does this is through a system in which the financial consequences of promiscuity are not carried by the people directly involved but diffused throughout society collectively.

The British Government has also created a moral hazard when it began to allow the welfare safety net to be exploited in ways which incentivise family breakdown. “At present,” Brandon writes, “the tax and benefits system makes it economically more favourable for some parents to live apart – the so-called couple penalty. Ending this must be a priority.”

Why Free Sex is Never Free

The Jubilee Centre article, titled ‘Free sex: Who pays?: Moral hazard and sexual ethics’, suggests that while “the costs of sexual freedom and relationship breakdown to the taxpayer and wider economy are complex and difficult to calculate… £100 billion annually is probably a reasonable starting point: about twice as much as alcohol abuse, smoking and obesity combined.”

The following are some the areas where the costs of sexual licence are felt the strongest in our economy:

  • Promiscuity often leads to STI’s, which cost the British taxpayer more than £1 billion per year.
  • Promiscuity often leads to HIV. The estimated 83,000 cases of HIV in the UK at the end of 2008 represent a total lifetime cost of £26 billion.
  • Promiscuity leads to teenage pregnancy which cost the NHS £63 million per year, and a further £29 million for infertility and other complications arising from chlamydia alone.
  • Promiscuity often leads to abortions, and 96% of abortions are carried out on the NHS at a cost of £650 each, or £118 million.
  • Promiscuity often contributes to separation from marriage and cohabiting relationships (including promiscuity prior to entering such relationships), which entails huge increases in tax credit payments, lone parent benefits, housing benefits, in addition to the health, crime and educational impact of relationship breakdown. Altogether this totals about £42 billion a year.
  • In contributing to relationship breakdown, promiscuity leads to Absenteeism. The loss of working hours following relationship breakdown costs the economy at least £20 billion a year.
  • In contributing to relationship breakdown, promiscuity can lead to domestic violence which costs the British taxpayer around £3.4 billion a year, and around £21 billion today in ‘human and emotional costs.’
  • The effect of relationship breakdown on children leads to educational underachievement which results in an estimated £40,000 for each child, reducing GDP by £6 billion. Much of this cost can be directly attributable to the promiscuous activity which contributed to the relationship breakdown.

These facts, all of which Brandon meticulously documents, help to undermine the common narrative that sex is a choice made only by the couple most directly involved with only limited consequences beyond the two of them. This narrative has found expression in phrases such as ‘recreational sex’ and ‘casual sex’, which obscure the reality that the entire society picks up the bill for promiscuity.

Some of the material for this post was originally published by Christian Voice, a UK ministry whose website is http://www.christianvoice.org.uk/. The article is published here with permission of Christian Voice.