Month Archives: October 2012

Post Plugs Polygamy, While Distorting Scholars Views to Defend Homosexual Marriage

by Peter Sprigg

October 9, 2012

In public policy debates, when opponents of homosexual marriage warn that one redefinition of marriage will lead to otherssuch as polygamythe advocates of same-sex marriage usually scoff. Marriage is about two people, they insistalbeit with much less explanation than we social conservatives offer for the claim that marriage is about one man and one woman.

Neither academia nor the media are so reticent to talk about polygamy, however. The latest example was a piece by Lisa Miller (Newsweeks Religion Editor) on the Washington Posts On Faith page on Saturday, October 6. (Note: this Lisa Miller is not to be confused with the Christian former lesbian of the same name, who has been in a long-running battle with her former partner to keep custody of her own child.)

The headline in the print edition was, In marriage, three or more is still a crowd, scholar says. The scholar in question is John Witte, Jr., a scholar of religion and law at Emory University in Atlanta. Witte is writing a lengthy history of polygamya practice which he opposes.

Headline notwithstanding, the piece is not mostly about Witte. The online version of the article bears a different headline: Polygamy may be hot, but in marriage threes still a crowd. Reading the piece, however, one gets the sense that Miller is far more enamored with how hot polygamy is than she is impressed with Wittes threes a crowd critique.

A little content analysis is in order. The article is eleven paragraphs long. Arguments often used in support of polygamy can be found in eight of the eleven paragraphs. Arguments against polygamy can be found in only one.

Miller not only cites the legalization of same-sex marriage as a precedent for legalizing polygamy, but she becomes downright redundant in doing so. The piece is filled with rhetorical questions, all of which conclude with some variant of, Why not polygamy?

For example:

If states are able to dismantle traditional or conventional views of marriage by allowing two men or two women to wed, . . .

If Americans increasingly value their rights to privacy and liberty above historical social norms, . . .

Quoting Witte: With so much marital pluralism and private ordering already available, …

Miller even sounds exasperated at one point:

But really. If the purpose of marriage is to preserve personal happiness, protect and raise children, and create social stability through shared property and mutual obligation, …

Witte summarizes the arguments some make for polygamy more bluntly:

[T]hose that oppose polygamy are just like the homophobes and the patriarchs.

Here is the lone paragraph in which Miller summarizes Wittes rebuttal of this argument:

QUOTE

Same-sex marriage does not open the door to polygamy because what matters in marriage is not who but how many. According to his research of civil law and religious tradition, the meaningful number is two. Polygamy creates competition and rivalries; it can foster insularity and religious zealotry; at its worst, it can subordinate women and children. Two has moral resonance, for it forces a couple to seriously consider their vows for better and worse; it shows children an example of mutual love and respect.

END QUOTE

Note that even here, only a single sentence actually critiques polygamy: Polygamy creates competition and rivalries; it can foster insularity and religious zealotry; at its worst, it can subordinate women and children.

The rest of the paragraph makes the case that the political advocates of same-sex marriage makeSame-sex marriage does not open the door to polygamy, because the meaningful number is two.

I was ready to end this post by pointing out that the reason marriage has been a union of two people is not for such vague reasons as that two has moral resonance, that it forces a couple to seriously consider their vows, or that it shows children an example of mutual love and respect. I am sure that Kody Brown, the polygamous reality TV star from Sister Wives, or the other people … living nice, quiet lives with their multiple, simultaneous partners cited by Miller, would argue they are just as moral, serious, loving, and respectful as any monogamous couple.

No, the reason marriage has (usually) been a union of two is simpletwo is the exact number of people (and the number of sexes) required to make a baby. And it is only because marriage fosters responsible procreation that we treat it as a public institution at all. The central argument against polygamy is thus the same as the central argument against same-sex marriage.

However, as Paul Harvey would say, you need to know the rest of the story. I was going to direct this critique at both Miller and Witte, since Miller seems to present the entire paragraph quoted above as a summary of Wittes views. However, it is notat least, not an accurate one.

I discovered this almost by accident, when I clicked on the hotlink in the words, Two has moral resonance. This brought me to another piece that appeared on the Posts website just a few days earlier. Lo and behold, it was an extensive commentary, nearly a thousand words long, by Witte himselfunder the title, Why monogamy is natural.

Witte does not say that what matters in marriage is not who gets married. He does not speak of the need for couples to seriously consider their vows. He puts no emphasis on mutual love and respect. And he does not say that the meaningful number is two because [t]wo has moral resonance (whatever that means).

Here is what Witte actually says about the meaningful number of two:

QUOTE

[M]odern evolutionary scientists, from Claude Levi-Strauss to Bernard Chapais, have concluded the same [thing as Christians and post-Christian liberals]: that pair-bonding is part of the deep structure of human reproduction that humans have evolved as their best strategy for survival and success.

END QUOTE

It is not about Lisa Millers vague, touchy-feely moral resonance. It is about the deep structure of human reproduction.

Witte goes on to say, Both traditional theorists and modern scientists point to four facts of human nature that commend monogamy. They are:

First, unlike most other animals, humans crave sex all the time . . .

Second, unlike most other animals, human babies are born weak, fragile, and utterly dependent for many years… .

Third, however, most fathers will bond and help with a child only if they are certain of their paternity… .

Fourth, unlike virtually all other animals, humans have the freedom and the capacity to engage in species-destructive behavior in pursuit of their own sexual gratification … yielding a perennial underclass of children with single parents who have rarely fared well in any culture.

What conclusion does Witte draw from these facts of human nature?

QUOTE

Given these four factors, nature has strongly inclined rational human persons to develop enduring and exclusive sexual relationships, called marriages, as the best form and forum of sexual bonding and reproductive success. Faithful and healthy monogamous marriages are designed to provide for the sexual needs and desires of a husband and wife. They ensure that both fathers and mothers are certain that a baby born to them is theirs. They ensure that husband and wife will together care for, nurture, and educate their children until they mature. And they deter both spouses from destructive sexual behavior outside the home.

END QUOTE

Advocates of homosexual marriage reject any argument for a one-man-one-woman definition of marriage based on the belief that marriage is about procreation. After all, they reason, married couples are not required to procreate. No, they argueonly religion and bigotry toward homosexuals can explain opposition to same-sex marriage.

Wittes article neither endorses nor condemns, explicitly, the legalization of same-sex marriage. However, the public purposes he cites so eloquently for marriageincluding reproductive success, the importance of a husband and wife and fathers and mothers, and the certainty that a baby born to them is theirsall apply only to opposite-sex unions.

So, I will modify my critique of the Post for plugging polygamy, and offer qualified kudos to them for running Wittes thoughtful piece.

Shame on Lisa Miller, however, for distorting Wittes argument by omitting the heart of it.

Teenagers and the Risks of Abortion

by Sharon Barrett

October 4, 2012

MARRI intern Sarah Robinson makes the following observation about Conservatives and the War on Women:

Conservatives are generally labeled with this accusation [of conducting a war on women] because of the pro-life stance with which the Republican Party aligns. But the pro-life position actually protects womens health against the negative effects of abortion.

The effects of abortion on women are well documented. According to research compiled by FRC in The Top Ten Myths About Abortion, medical complications include cervical lacerations and injury, uterine perforations, bleeding, hemorrhage, serious infection, pain, and incomplete abortion. The abortifacient RU-486 carries risks similar to those of the abortion procedure.

Psychological complications of abortion include increased risk of major depression, anxiety disorder, suicidal behaviors, and substance dependence. More recently, Post-Abortion Syndrome (as a subset of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) has been identified in women who suffer from effects like guilt feelings, anxiety, and flashbacks.

Of greatest concern, perhaps, are the dangers of abortion to adolescent girls. Sarah Robinson summarizes some of the research:

Adolescents who have had abortions, compared to those who have given birth, report more sleeping problems, frequent marijuana use, and increased need for psychological counseling.

MARRI research demonstrates the link between a womans upbringing and her likelihood to abort her first child. An intact family structure and weekly religious worship in her family of origin make her least likely to have an abortion. These factors also make her least likely to have a non-marital pregnancy to begin with. Countering the negative effects of abortion in teenagers, which can extend into later life (especially in women who have multiple abortions), begins with restoring the role of the family and religion in the life of young women.

FRC releases two new brochures on Human Trafficking and Planned Parenthood

by Krystle Gabele

October 4, 2012

Recently, Family Research Council released two new brochures highlighting the dangers of human trafficking and what people need to know about Planned Parenthood. These brochures are bringing to light two issues that should be addressed by candidates this election.

Human trafficking is a growing problem, not just in the United States, but around the world. This crime is increasing, and according to Stop Child Trafficking Now, the statistics are alarming. Approximately, 2.8 million children run away from home, and one-third of them end up the victims of this tragic crime.

In our new brochure, J. Robert Flores, Esq. sheds light onto this crime, specifically sex trafficking and prostitution. This crime impacts all of us, and it is time for our leaders to take action. Flores explains the efforts that are taking place to combat sex trafficking and the steps you can take to prevent another child from becoming a victim to this crime.

Aside from human trafficking, another issue that is front and center is abortion. With Planned Parenthood being the largest abortion provider in the United States, there has been much controversy behind their practices. Jeanne Monahan, Director, Center for Human Dignity at FRC, has carefully documented the facts behind Planned Parenthoods practices, as well as its negative impact on womens health.

Please feel free to share these brochures with your friends and family and empower them to take action on these issues that threaten the family.

On the Values Bus: A Mile High Mission

by Robert Morrison

October 4, 2012

The Values Bus rolled into Colorado this week. Our first stop was Denver, the site of last night’s presidential debate. Yesterday, we had a chance to meet with some key state legislative leaders at the Centennial State’s impressive Capitol. Like Iowa’s (and Massachusetts’s and West Virginia’s) this great domed structure is covered in gold leaf.

I was especially pleased to renew my friendship with Amy Stephens. Years ago, Amy was the policy director for Focus on the Family when I had that role at FRC. Now, Representative Amy Stephens is the Republican leader in the state house. That’s a nice change.

Wherever we go on the Values Bus, I make it a point to meet and talk to as many local and state elected officials as I can. It’s a most encouraging effort. These are really sharp folks. They are close to their constituents, conscientious, and capable. In Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, and Virginia, we had strong support for the Values Bus from locally elected lawmakers.

With the president headed into Denver for his debate, I had the rare opportunity of agreeing with him. Mr. Obama recently said “Washington is broken and we can’t fix it from the inside.” You are so right, Sir! And in my remarks on the steps of the State Capitol, I ventured the opinion that it would have been so nice if the President had realized that before his administration took control of banks, insurance companies, college student loans, the nation’s health care, GM, and Chrysler.

The impression one gets at these majestic, solid state capitols is of people being capable of self-government. They built these impressive monuments to the peoples’ ability to run their own affairs before Mr. Obama pressed on them a stimulus, before he issued mandates, and even before his EPA did an environmental impact study.

We are rolling through the American heartland with our friends from the Heritage Foundation. The Values Bus is a joint project. Heritage’s Vice President for Communications, Genevieve Wood, is another long-time friend. She used to fill that role at FRC. She always generously gives FRC a hat tip at each stop. I return the salute, saying we are honored to work with Heritage Foundation as they ride through the heartland dispensing subversive literature—the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution!

Gov. Mitt Romney last night offered this “means test” for a federal program. Is it so critical that we are willing to borrow money from China to continue funding it? So long, Big Bird! And maybe The Jim Lehrer News Hour, too. (Although, after last night’s performance as the debate’s hesitant moderator, it may be we have liberal agreement on that one.)

Whenever I visit a state capitol, I am moved to ask: “Who would think the people who built this are not capable of running their own schools?” SAT scores are continuing their years-long slide under President Obama. I don’t blame him for that. He doesn’t take the tests. But I do criticize him and even some of his Republican predecessors for continuing to shovel money at the unconstitutional and wasteful federal education department. Can any Americans point to a single improvement in their local schools we can attribute to the federal education department?

I should know: I worked there for three years in the 1980s. I served under President Ronald Reagan. When a liberal Republican congressman asked for a meeting with the president to talk about the future of the Education Department. Mr. Reagan wrote in the margin of the meeting agenda: “I hope it doesn’t have one!” Right you are, Mr. President! And, as Genevieve Wood reminds us: This is how you pile up a $16 Trillion debt.

The state capitols are an eloquent reminder of a time when state and local governments served Americans best because they were closest to the people. If we lose the ability to govern ourselves in our state and local governments, we cannot expect wisdom suddenly to descend on the banks of the Potomac. As Thomas Jefferson said: “If we had to wait for Washington [D.C.] to tell us when to plant, we should soon want bread.”

Why be surprised, when you can buy?

by Lindsay Smith

October 2, 2012

The most divisive question used to be, Will you find out, or wait and be surprised? Do you want to have the joy of planning and preparing for months, or the excitement of pacing and discovering in a hospital room? Some couples wanted that ultrasound; others chose to wait. But now in America, some doctors are presenting couples with a third option, attempting to make both of the former seem passive and old-fashioned. Their battle cry is Why wait? Why wait 9 months for a surprise? Why wait 16 weeks to start picking out nursery colors? In fact why wait at all? Just decide, or should I say buy?

The technique is called Preimplanatation Genetic Diagnosis (PGD). First, embryos are created in a lab from the parents sperm and egg. After fertilization and three days of incubation, an embryologist uses a laser to cut a hole through an embryos protective membrane and then picks out one of the eight cells. Using this cell, the babys gender is determined. If she is the sex her parents desire, she is implanted into her mother, but if he is not, he is destroyed. Destroyed for being a boy, or destroyed for being a girl. Their gender preserves their lives or predicts their deaths, while America looks on with indifference at best and support at worst.

Richard Miniter articulates the rules of sex-selection accurately: If the child had different characteristics, it would live. There is no other way to look at it. Thats why every industrial nation has restricted sex-selection, with the notable exception of the US.

Thirty-four nations currently prohibit sex selection either for medical purposes or all-together. A few might stun you: Russia, Canada, India and even China. In fact, multiple sources report that citizens of these nations come to the U.S. to have these procedures. Canada allocates tax dollars for abortions and in a bizarre case even released a woman charged with infanticide based on their abortion laws, but they dont allow gender selection. Shouldnt that set off a few alarm bells? The truth is many Americans respond affirmatively to these alarms. Some 86% of Americans surveyed believe that sex-selection abortion should be illegal, according to a 2006 Zogby poll.

If youre thinking to yourself, Im in that 86%, but Ive never even heard of PGD for sex selection, youre probably not alone. Clinics tailor their advertising to target audiences. Rather than erecting a billboard in the center of town, they enter online message boards, offering advertisements advice to predisposed women. While some might argue they provide an act of goodwill to these women desperate for a son, lets allow the numbers to speak for a minute. PGD for gender selection purposes is a $100 million dollar industry, bringing in about $18,000 for each of its 4,000-6,000 annual procedures. Clinics are not providing for a woman out of mere generosity; they are profiting from her for their personal gain. Gender selection services are not a goodwill charity; they are a moneymaking industry!

One more thought about the numbers. According to Dillon International, a U.S. adoption agency, $18,000 would cover a significant portion of an international adoption. The cost of 2 PGD treatments would fully cover an international adoption for over half of the countries in which they work, travel expenses included. There are orphaned girls and boys who are truly desperate to become sons and daughters. Someone has already chosen life for these children, perhaps this money could help grant them a family too.

Supporters of this industry espouse it as family balancing. As if to allude, too many daughters [or sons] would have a negative effect on a household. And while to some the language of family balancing sounds attractive in truth it is manipulative: the mother is influenced to believe shes making a proactive and positive decision for her family. The sellers of this industry want her to feel powerful. And for many this works.

I read the Amazon reviews for Chasing the Gender Dream, one womens experience with sex-selection. One anonymous reviewer wrote, If you are not comfortable with 50-50 odds, you will be assured throughout that you are not alone. If you are not comfortable with 50-50 odds… Couldnt this also be worded, if you are not comfortable with Gods plan for creating life? Throughout his life, Job learns a lot about the plans of God, and confidently responds to Him: I know that you can do all things; no purpose of yours can be thwarted (Job 42:2). With jargon like family balancing, exchange of thousands of dollars and requests for gender preferences, these doctors are painting the picture that a woman or couple can decide who they want to birth. In doing so, they smear a completed masterpiece of life with brushstrokes of death; they muddy the waters between the creation of life and the destruction of life, when in fact there is a very clear and critical distinction between these two realities. Even for those who do not hold a Christian worldview, the difference between creating life and destroying life is hugely significant. The Bible unequivocally declares the sex-selection choice to be a lie! Only the Creator of Life gets to decide gender and birth order. Anyone else who tries to intervene does not dictate gender, but sadly invites destruction.

After reviewing a study done in this field, Richard Miniter remarks, Simply, you cannot defy Mother Nature or the law of averages without extraordinary amounts of force. It comes in many forms: intimidation, violence, murder. Substitute God for Mother Nature and I couldnt agree more with his sentiments. Jasmeet Sidhus article in Slate Magazine, tells the story of one woman who spent nearly $40,000 to have a daughter because her first round of PGD failed; all embryos were discarded. These doctors have no greater way of choosing the sex of a child than you or I do. They simply have a more convenient (and expensive) way of disposing of those who dont make the chromosome cut.

So while the distributors of PGD entice America to choose gender, God urges us to choose life. The doctors try to say we can decide between boy or girl, but God says, See, I set before you today life and prosperity, death and destruction. The doctors charge a woman for her preference, but God invites us to make a free selection. Lets be clear though, while we have free will, we do not have free consequences. So choose life in order that you may live, you and your descendants,” (Jeremiah 30:19 NASB).

May America recognize that life is determined by God, not dependent on gender.

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