Author archives: Peter Sprigg

Newsweek, or Opinion Weak?

by Peter Sprigg

December 10, 2008

Newsweek has declared war on marriage. That is the only way to interpret its publishing a lengthy cover story by Lisa Miller that rehashes a laundry list of unoriginal arguments in favor of same-sex “marriage.” There are so many logical and theological errors in this piece that we felt it deserved a detailed, point-by-point rebuttal. FRC’s President, Tony Perkins, and Vice President for Policy, the Rev. Peter Sprigg, collaborated in preparing this piece

 

Passages in bold below are quotes from the Newsweek article; following each is a rebuttal/response.

Let’s try for a minute to take the religious conservatives at their word and define marriage as the Bible does… .  Abraham, Jacob, David, Solomon and the kings of Judah and Israel-all these fathers and heroes were polygamists.

There is a difference between how the Bible defines marriage and how it depicts it in all it’s sin-corrupted reality. It is defined in the creation:

22The LORD God fashioned into a woman the rib which He had taken from the man, and brought her to the man… .  24For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh. (Genesis 2:22, 24, NASB)

The accounts of the lives of the Patriarchs, like Abraham, Jacob and David make abundantly clear that deviations from the model of one man one woman led to a multitude of personal and societal problems. 

 “The New Testament model of marriage is hardly better. Jesus himself was single and preached an indifference to earthly attachments-especially family. The apostle Paul (also single) regarded marriage as an act of last resort for those unable to contain their animal lust.”

Neither Jesus nor Paul were indifferent to marriage or familial ties-they simply gave priority to unhindered service to God.  Jesus’ first recorded miracle was at a wedding, which is hard to see as a non-endorsement of the institution.  Paul taught extensively on proper family relationships, especially of those of husbands and wives and fathers and children (Eph 5:22-6:4).  To somehow infer that Paul was indifferent to marriage is a denial of reality.  Paul was also very clear on one man one woman marriage (1 Tim 3:2, 12).  There was a reason for Paul’s repeated focus on marriage - marriage is central to the gospel because it is a reflection of the relationship between Christ and the Church.  Christ is the bridegroom and the Church the bride.  He instructs husbands to follow the manner of Christ and give themselves for the benefit of their wives (Eph 5:25).  It is incomprehensible that Paul would say same-sex marriage reflected the life-giving, hope-filled union of Christ and His bride. 

Of course, marriage was not mandatory in the New Testament-nor is it for social conservatives today. Jesus and Paul both upheld celibacy-as the only acceptable alternative to fidelity in marriage between one man and one woman. The same value is upheld by the modern abstinence movement.

First, while the Bible and Jesus say many important things about love and family, neither explicitly defines marriage as between one man and one woman.”

This is flatly false. See again Genesis 2:

22The LORD God fashioned into a woman the rib which He had taken from the man, and brought her to the man… .  24For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh. (Genesis 2:22, 24, NASB)

This was explicitly affirmed by Jesus himself, as recorded in two of the gospels:

3Some Pharisees came to Jesus, testing Him and asking, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any reason at all?” 4And He answered and said, “Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning MADE THEM MALE AND FEMALE, 5and said, ‘FOR THIS REASON A MAN SHALL LEAVE HIS FATHER AND MOTHER AND BE JOINED TO HIS WIFE, AND THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH’? 6”So they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate.” (Matthew 19:3-6, NASB)

2Some Pharisees came up to Jesus, testing Him, and began to question Him whether it was lawful for a man to divorce a wife. 3And He answered and said to them, “What did Moses command you?” 4They said, “Moses permitted a man TO WRITE A CERTIFICATE OF DIVORCE AND SEND her AWAY.” 5But Jesus said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart he wrote you this commandment. 6”But from the beginning of creation, God MADE THEM MALE AND FEMALE. 7”FOR THIS REASON A MAN SHALL LEAVE HIS FATHER AND MOTHER, 8AND THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH; so they are no longer two, but one flesh. 9”What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate.” 10In the house the disciples began questioning Him about this again. 11And He said to them, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery against her; 12and if she herself divorces her husband and marries another man, she is committing adultery.” (Mark 10:2-12, NASB)

Paul also twice affirms one man one woman marriage as a condition for church leadership (although it is somewhat unclear whether he is contrasting it with polygamy or with divorce and remarriage):

1It is a trustworthy statement: if any man aspires to the office of overseer, it is a fine work he desires to do. 2An overseer, then, must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, temperate, prudent, respectable, hospitable, able to teach …  (I Timothy 3: 1-2, NASB)

5For this reason I left you in Crete, that you would set in order what remains and appoint elders in every city as I directed you, 6namely, if any man is above reproach, the husband of one wife, having children who believe, not accused of dissipation or rebellion. (Titus 1:5-6, NASB)

Biblical literalists will disagree, but the Bible is a living document, powerful for more than 2,000 years because its truths speak to us even as we change through history. In that light, Scripture gives us no good reason why gays and lesbians should not be (civilly and religiously) married-and a number of excellent reasons why they should.”

The Bible is a “living document” only because it is the Word of God, inspired by the living Holy Spirit, not because we have been given license to ignore its plain teachings to compromise with the spirit of the present age instead. Everywhere that Scripture refers to marriage (even the polygamous ones), it is a male-female union, and everywhere that Scripture refers to homosexual conduct, it either condemns it in the strongest possible terms or at the very least casts it in a negative light. (Note: there is not one shred of evidence that the love between David and Jonathan was sexual in nature.)

Social conservatives point to Adam and Eve as evidence for their one man, one woman argument-in particular, this verse from Genesis: ‘Therefore shall a man leave his mother and father, and shall cleave unto his wife, and they shall be one flesh.’ But as Segal says, if you believe that the Bible was written by men and not handed down in its leather bindings by God, then that verse was written by people for whom polygamy was the way of the world.

That is true, so if these men wanted to cover their tracks, would they not have tried to create cover for their ideas of marriage by saying it was God’s idea?  Rather it is made clear that is a singular union.  And by the way, God’s model of marriage was designed prior to the fall of man.  

Ozzie and Harriet are nowhere in the New Testament either. The biblical Jesus was-in spite of recent efforts of novelists to paint him otherwise-emphatically unmarried. He preached a radical kind of family, a caring community of believers, whose bond in God superseded all blood ties. Leave your families and follow me, Jesus says in the gospels.”

Yes, Jesus was definitely unmarried, and it is true that the “bond in God superseded all blood ties.” But “leave your families and follow me” is a rather simplistic paraphrase. Jesus’ disciples James and John, adult men, leave their father’s fishing business when Jesus calls them (Matt. 4:18-22, Mark 1:16-20), and Jesus admonished one questioner who wants to “bury my father” not to delay in following him (Matt. 8:19-22, Luke 9:59-62). The most sweeping statement of this nature made by Jesus is recorded in Mark 10:28-30 (paralleled by Luke 18:28-30):

28Peter began to say to Him, “Behold, we have left everything and followed You.” 29Jesus said, “Truly I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or farms, for My sake and for the gospel’s sake, 30but that he will receive a hundred times as much now in the present age, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and farms, along with persecutions; and in the age to come, eternal life. (NASB)

It is not clear whether “children” here actually refers to minors; and none of these passages speaks of leaving one’s spouse. How Miller can conclude that adult sons leaving home to pursue their own calling undermines the traditional nuclear family is not really clear.

Jesus never mentions homosexuality, but he roundly condemns divorce . . .”

This is undoubtedly because Jesus encountered many more people who were tempted by easy divorce than he did people who were tempted by homosexuality. The whole argument that “Jesus never mentions homosexuality,” and therefore that he must have tolerated it, is ridiculous on its face. Jesus never mentions rape or child sexual abuse, but that can hardly be interpreted to mean that he condoned them. As with those sexual sins, he may have felt that homosexuality was so clearly offensive that there was no point in stating the obvious.

A more precise exegetical point is this. There certainly are parts of the Old Testament law that were abrogated in some sense by Jesus, such as the dietary laws. But that was never the case for any of the laws governing sexual conduct. Both, for example, are mentioned (and contrasted) in Mark 7:14-23:

14After He called the crowd to Him again, He began saying to them, “Listen to Me, all of you, and understand: 15there is nothing outside the man which can defile him if it goes into him; but the things which proceed out of the man are what defile the man. 16[“If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear.”] 17When he had left the crowd and entered the house, His disciples questioned Him about the parable. 18And He said to them, “Are you so lacking in understanding also? Do you not understand that whatever goes into the man from outside cannot defile him, 19because it does not go into his heart, but into his stomach, and is eliminated?” (Thus He declared all foods clean.) 20And He was saying, “That which proceeds out of the man, that is what defiles the man. 21”For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries, 22deeds of coveting and wickedness, as well as deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride and foolishness. 23”All these evil things proceed from within and defile the man.” (NASB)

Note that while he “declared all foods clean,” the same is not true of all sexual relationships, because “fornications,” “adulteries,” and “sensuality” remain among those things that “defile the man.”

If anything, Jesus strengthened the Old Testament teachings against sexual sin, rather than weakening them. He tightened restrictions on divorce (Matt. 5:31-32; Matt. 19:1-9; Mark 10:2-12; Luke 16:18) and on adultery:

27“You have heard that it was said, ‘YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT ADULTERY’; 28but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. [Matt. 5:27-28: NASB].

There is no passage where Jesus ever weakened restrictions on sexual behavior. In the case of the woman caught in adultery (John 8:3-11), he prevented the imposition of the death penalty by stoning, but he did not say that she had not sinned-rather, he admonished her to “sin no more.”

It probably goes without saying that the phrase “gay marriage” does not appear in the Bible at all.”

Precisely-so how the author can claim that the Bible supports it is a mystery.

” … nowhere in the Bible do its authors refer to sex between women . . .”

This is simply false-see Romans 1:26:

26For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, 27and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error. (NASB)

This is the passage which even liberal evangelical Tony Campolo says cannot be evaded in giving proof that all homosexual conduct is sinful.

Twice Leviticus refers to sex between men as ‘an abomination’ (King James version), but these are throwaway lines in a peculiar text given over to codes for living in the ancient Jewish world, a text that devotes verse after verse to treatments for leprosy, cleanliness rituals for menstruating women and the correct way to sacrifice a goat-or a lamb or a turtle dove.”

Homosexual activists are fond of dismissing the Leviticus passage by dismissing the larger context of the Levitical code. However, they never place the most famous Leviticus verse (18:22) in its immediate context:

20‘You shall not have intercourse with your neighbor’s wife, to be defiled with her. 21’You shall not give any of your offspring to offer them to Molech, nor shall you profane the name of your God; I am the LORD. 22’You shall not lie with a male as one lies with a female; it is an abomination. 23’Also you shall not have intercourse with any animal to be defiled with it, nor shall any woman stand before an animal to mate with it; it is a perversion. (Leviticus 18:20-23)

Adultery, child sacrifice, and bestiality are the behaviors that are most directly compared with homosexuality-not leprosy or menstruation.

Religious objections to gay marriage are rooted not in the Bible at all, then, but in custom and tradition . . .”

This is a completely ridiculous statement that is supportable only when you accept the idiosyncratic postmodern exegesis she has already laid out, which is completely out of step with responsible biblical interpretation. Even many homosexual activists concede that there is no question that the Bible condemns all homosexual relationships. They argue that we must simply dismiss the Bible as a source of moral authority.

The Bible endorses slavery … It provides conceptual shelter for anti-Semites. A mature view of scriptural authority requires us, as we have in the past, to move beyond literalism. The Bible was written for a world so unlike our own, it’s impossible to apply its rules, at face value, to ours.”

The issue of the Bible and slavery is certainly a complicated one, because it is true that the Bible does not unequivocally condemn slavery-however, that it not the same thing as saying that it “endorses” it. To say, “It provides conceptual shelter for anti-Semites” is ridiculous, given that the Bible was written by Jews, about Jews, and primarily for Jews.

However, note the author’s logical inconsistency here. After arguing for several pages that the Bible, in fact, does not condemn homosexual acts and does not define marriage as the union of one man and one woman, she is suddenly shifting gears and saying that we have to ignore what the Bible does teach if it conflicts with modern political correctness.

Monogamy became the norm in the Christian world in the sixth century … Today’s vision of marriage as a union of equal partners, joined in a relationship both romantic and pragmatic, is, by very recent standards, radical, says Stephanie Coontz, author of ‘Marriage, a History.’”

The first sentence is ridiculous-see I Timothy 3: 1-2 and Titus 1:5-6, cited above. But it is undoubtedly asserted by Coontz, the left’s favorite marriage scholar. David Blankenhorn (who is moderate to liberal both politically and theologically, but a serious scholar of marriage and the family) has written that “nearly every sentence that Stephanie Coontz writes contains at least one piece of confusion.”

We cannot look to the Bible as a marriage manual … It speaks eloquently of the crucial role of families in a fair society and the risks we incur to ourselves and our children should we cease trying to bind ourselves together in loving pairs.”

Actually, there are a number of passages in the Bible with marital advice that remains timely today (even if it does not conform to the rigid egalitarianism that modern liberals insist upon). They include Ephesians 5:22-23, Colossians 3:18-21, and I Peter 3:1-7.

However, Miller cites no Biblical verses that suggest the importance of “loving pairs” other than male-female marriages, except for the story of David and Jonathan. This can fit Miller’s rather elastic term “loving pair,” but is nowhere described as a marital or family relationship, but rather a very deep friendship.

In the Christian story, the message of acceptance for all is codified… The great Bible scholar Walter Brueggemann … quotes the apostle Paul when he looks for biblical support of gay marriage: ‘There is neither Greek nor Jew, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Jesus Christ.’”

This is a subtle way of injecting, implicitly, the myth that people are “born gay” or that there is a “gay gene.” Ethnic identity, slave status, and gender are all human characteristics that are beyond an individual’s choice. The same cannot be said of homosexual conduct. In reality even today, and certainly in the Bible, homosexuality is not an “identity,” it is a chosen behavior-a behavior which is in every instance condemned as sinful.

Did the early church contain people who had engaged in homosexual behavior? The answer is yes-but the relevant text is not the one Brueggemann cites, but I Corinthians 6:9-11:

9Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, 10nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. 11Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.

Active homosexuals will not “inherit the kingdom of God” unless and until they are washed, sanctified, and justified by Christ. The church in Corinth could not have imagined homosexual marriage, but it did have former homosexuals among its members.

If one is for racial equality and the common nature of humanity, then the values of stability, monogamy and family necessarily follow… If we are all God’s children, made in his likeness and image, then to deny access to any sacrament based on sexuality is exactly the same thing as denying it based on skin color-and no serious (or even semiserious) person would argue that… More basic than theology, though, is human need… . We want our children to grow up in stable homes.”

There are several issues intertwined in these excerpts. Twice here Miller compares homosexual relationships with race. But race is a characteristic which is inborn, involuntary, immutable, and innocuous. None of those things can honestly be said about the choice to engage in homosexual relationships. When Miller says that “no serious (or even semiserious) person would argue that,” it’s somewhat unclear whether she’s talking about arguing for racial exclusion (in which case she’s right) or talking about “denying access to any sacrament based on sexuality”-in which case she is dead wrong. Robert A. J. Gagnon’s book The Bible and Homosexual Practice: Texts and Hermeneutics (493 pages) makes a far more “serious” case for the traditional view of homosexuality than Miller makes against it. But in any case, her premise is false. Remember, strictly speaking, no one is “excluded” from marriage because of their “sexual orientation”-it’s just that “marriage” is, by definition, the union of a man and a woman. Many self-identified homosexuals have been married (to people of the opposite sex), while many former homosexuals are currently married (to people of the opposite sex). Furthermore, the comparison with race is not valid (see comments on previous quote).

The “values of stability [and] monogamy” are precisely what is threatened by same-sex “marriage.” The research shows that homosexual relationships (particularly male homosexual relationships) simply are not characterized by “stability” or “monogamy” to any degree that is comparable to male-female marriage, and are often overtly rejected by homosexuals (who, for example, often seek other outside sexual partners even when they already have a “long-term” partner). I would agree that “[w]e [meaning society] want our children to grow up in stable homes”-but affirming homosexual parenting by allowing homosexual marriage would undermine that goal, since the higher rates of sexual promiscuity, STD’s, mental illness, substance abuse, domestic violence, and child sexual abuse among homosexuals are not conducive to a “stable” environment. Furthermore, an abundance of social science research shows that children raised by their own biological mother and father who are committed to one another in a lifelong marriage do better than children in any other living situation.

Finally, I would agree that “[m]ore basic than theology, though, is human need.” And the most fundamental “human need,” apart from sheer survival, is to reproduce ourselves. That is something that can only be done naturally by the union of a man and a woman. And fundamentally that-not Biblical teaching, nor “custom and tradition”-is why civil marriage is defined as the union of a man and a woman

Marriage Wins Despite Liberal Control of Washington

by Peter Sprigg

November 5, 2008

The traditional, historic, and natural definition of marriage as the union of one man and one woman was a winner on Election Day, despite the simultaneous victories for Democrats in capturing the White House and expanding their majority in Congress.

The latest results as of midday on Wednesday (November 5) show that state constitutional amendments to define marriage as a one-man one-woman union had passed in Florida and Arizona and one was likely to pass in California as well.

Although many states that have already adopted such amendments did so fairly handily (especially in 2004), each of the amendments on the ballot in 2008 faced unique challenges.

Florida was the only one of the three states where adoption of the amendment required not just a simply majority of the vote, but a super-majority of 60%. The Florida Marriage Protection Amendment was the only one of the three on the ballot this year that was a “strong” or “two-sentence” amendment, meaning that included language to prevent “domestic partnerships” or “civil unions” as well as same-sex “marriage.” Florida’s amendment campaign was also probably the most under-funded of the three-yet they still managed to clear the higher hurdle set for them, winning 62.1% to 37.9%, with 99% of the vote counted (official results).

Arizona was the only state ever to see a marriage amendment defeated at the polls. In 2006, an earlier “two-sentence” amendment was defeated-ironically, not because of its impact on same-sex couples, but because of publicity about its potential impact on opposite-sex couples who sometimes enter into “domestic partnerships” to avoid losing Social Security benefits to a “marriage penalty.” This year Proposition 102, a revised, “one-sentence” amendment focused only on the definition of civil marriage, was successful by a margin of 56.5% to 43.5%, with 99.1% of the vote in (see official results). Turning the 2006 defeat into a 2008 victory is a great accomplishment for pro-family forces in Arizona.

The most closely-watched and heavily-funded (on both sides) campaign was the one in California. That state’s Supreme Court issued a 4-3 ruling on May 15 of this year that overturned two state laws defining marriage, thus opening the door for same-sex couples to begin receiving marriage licenses a month later. The idea that the amendment would “take away rights” that same-sex couples were already enjoying undoubtedly made passage harder. This was reinforced by the biased language which California Attorney General (and former Governor) Jerry Brown ordered on the ballot, declaring that the amendment primarily “eliminates the right of same-sex couples to marry,” rather than more neutrally stating that it “defines marriage as the union of one man and one woman.” Despite this finger on the scale, and a vicious campaign against the amendment that included anti-religious ads, vandalism, and even violence, California’s Proposition 8 appears to have passed, 52.2% to 47.8% with 96.4% of precincts reporting (official results). As I was writing this piece, it was reported on TV that the Associated Press had declared victory for Proposition 8. Congratulations to the people of California for successfully exercising the ultimate check against judicial tyranny in our political system.

The only disappointment on the marriage front was in Connecticut, whose Supreme Court followed the lead of California’s (also by a one-vote margin) on October 10 by fabricating a constitutional “right” to same-sex “marriage.” Connecticut does not have an initiative process whereby the people can place constitutional amendments on the ballot by petition. However, they did have the opportunity yesterday to call for a constitutional convention. Pro-marriage forces hoped that a convention might adopt an initiative process, which in turn could be used to place marriage on the ballot. Unfortunately, this three-step process may not have been understood by the voters, who rejected the idea of a constitutional convention by 59% to 41% (results here).

In addition to the three marriage amendments, however, there was one other victory yesterday for traditional family structures. Arkansas adopted a law (Proposed Initiative Act No. 1) by 56.8% to 43.2% (see here) which prohibits adoption or foster care by persons who are cohabiting with a sexual partner outside of marriage. While this would effectively bar homosexual couples from adopting, it also applies equally to cohabiting opposite-sex couples. (Single people would still be allowed to adopt, without regard to sexual orientation). Thus, while this bill is being described as “anti-gay-adoption,” it would be more accurately described as “anti-cohabitation.”

Whatever “mandate” President-elect Barack Obama and the Democratic Congress may claim from yesterday’s results, it is clearly not a mandate (even in Florida and California, which Obama carried) to change the definition of marriage or the family.

Homosexual TV Characters — Proportional Representation, or Propaganda?

by Peter Sprigg

October 2, 2008

The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) reported in triumph last week that the number of “lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT)” characters on broadcast TV will more than double in the new TV season.

Of course, TV writers, producers, and networks are free to create whatever type of characters they want, but the public needs to look at those characters and programs with a discerning eye. Are they just there to reflect what America actually looks like (GLAAD’s claim)? Or are they really there for propaganda purposes, to promote a sociopolitical agenda demanding affirmation of homosexual conduct?

There are two ways to test this question. One is to ask whether the depiction of homosexual characters is accurate. Does it accurately reflect the higher rates of sexual promiscuity, STDs, mental illness, substance abuse, domestic violence, and child sexual abuse among homosexuals? If the homosexual characters are always depicted as the smartest, funniest, most noble characters on the show, on the one hand, or only as victims of persecution, on the other, then you know you’re seeing propaganda.

The other test is whether other groups are proportionally represented on TV as well. For example, how many evangelical Christian characters are there on TV series, and how are they portrayed? There are many times as many evangelical Christians in America as there are homosexuals, but I doubt you’ll find that reflected on TV.

[See also CNN.com: In Hollywood, sexuality is less secret, still can be big deal]

Gay” Soldiers in George Washington’s Army?

by Peter Sprigg

July 24, 2008

One of the most bizarre aspects of the July 23 Congressional hearing on homosexuals in the military was the effort to read 21st-century political correctness back into American history.

Rep. Ellen Tauscher (D-Calif.) insisted, “We’ve had gays in the American military from the first unit that was ever formed.” Rep. Christopher Shays (R-Conn.) echoed this astonishing claim, saying that “gays have served in every conflict, every war” this country has fought.

In fact, Shays was even more specific, noting a patriotic event in his district at which they read the names of “everyone who lost his life in the French and Indian War—some of whom were gay.”

Rep. Joe Sestak (D-Pa.) declared that allowing homosexuals to serve would be an expression of the high value Americans place on the principle of equal opportunity. He even claimed the father of our country, George Washington, as an ally who believed that “the way to the top should be open to everyone.” In context, that referred to the respect Washington had for enlisted men in relation to officers—but Sestak apparently would have us believe that Washington felt the same way about equal opportunity for homosexuals.

Actually, though, we have some very precise evidence in the historical record of what Gen. Washington thought about homosexual conduct. It can be found in his General Orders issued on Saturday, March 14, 1778, toward the end of his army’s long, bitter winter at Valley Forge. Like today, his army was at war. Like today, his army had serious problems of recruitment and retention. Perhaps, like today, there might have been some people who would have argued that his army could not afford to lose a soldier over something like his sexual conduct.

But that argument carried no water with Washington. On the 10th of March, a General Court Martial was held to try Lieut. Frederick Gotthold Enslin “for attempting to commit sodomy, with John Monhort a soldier.” Having been convicted, he was sentenced “to be dismiss’d the service with Infamy.”

That may have been the verdict of the court martial, but is there any evidence of what Washington himself thought? In fact, there is: “His Excellency the Commander in Chief approves the sentence and with Abhorrence and Detestation of such Infamous Crimes orders Lieutt. Enslin to be drummed out of Camp tomorrow morning by all the Drummers and Fifers in the Army never to return . . .”

If members of Congress and homosexual activists want to argue for repeal of the existing law in order to allow homosexuals to serve openly in the military, let them make their case. But it is sheer nonsense to claim that such an action would be anything but a radical deviation from the unbroken practice of the American military throughout our country’s history.

Inside the Brain of Homosexual Activists

by Peter Sprigg

June 23, 2008

Three studies in the early 1990’s gave birth to the widespread belief that homosexuality is determined before birth by some biological (possibly genetic) factor. Although those three studies have been largely discredited, the search for the “gay gene” or, in some cases, the “gay brain,” goes on. Now another such study is in the news, reporting difference between the heterosexual and homosexual brain.

Studies like this are invariably reported as providing evidence that people are “born gay” and can’t change, when they don’t provide anything of the kind. All they show is a limited correlation between certain biological markers and homosexuality, but one of the first principles of statistics and science is that “correlation is not causation.”

I can’t critique this entire study on technical grounds, although I have read it. The sample size of 20 to 25 in each group (by sex and sexual orientation) seems fairly small, but the authors claim statistical significance for their findings. However, they give no explanation of how the study subjects were recruited, so there’s no way to evaluate whether this sample is likely to be representative of the larger population.

What many people don’t understand is that conservatives on the issue of homosexuality have never denied that there may be biological factors which correlate with homosexuality, or even ones which may, to some extent, influence its development. But what has never been found is any such factor that can be proven to cause homosexuality in a deterministic way.

If there were a genetic or biological factor which could fix and determine for all time that a person would be homosexual, then you would expect that factor to be present in every homosexual and in no heterosexual. That’s not what you find in this study, or in any of the similar studies. While there may be a difference is the average level of “cerebral asymmetry,” for example, there’s also considerable overlap between members of the homosexual and heterosexual sample.

One irony in this study is that, in essence, all it is saying is that the brains of homosexual men are more “feminine” that those of heterosexual men, and the brains of homosexual women are more “masculine” than those of heterosexual women. But don’t homosexual activists object to that as stereotyping? I thought they liked to claim that sexual orientation and gender identity are two completely different things.

The real bottom line here is that the “gay brain” and “gay gene” studies have so far produced findings that are only marginally interesting from a scientific perspective. The real reason these studies get so much media attention is because proving that people are born homosexual and cannot change would serve the political purpose of persuading people that sexual orientation is like race, and that it should be treated like race under the law. That’s all that’s really going on in the brains of homosexual activists.

(To learn more, order Getting It Straight: What the Research Shows about Homosexuality)

An Open Letter to Rob Boston on Secular Arguments against Same-Sex “Marriage”

by Peter Sprigg

June 21, 2008

[Note: On June 17, Rob Boston of Americans United for Separation of Church and State posted an item on their blog criticizing Family Research Council for ads that we ran in several California newspapers for Father’s Day. Below is a response.]

Dear Rob,

I read your June 17 blog post in which you said, “I challenge the FRC and other Religious Right groups to come up with one good secular reason against same-sex marriage. I don’t think they can do it.”

Perhaps you just haven’t been paying attention. I am sending you a complimentary copy of my book, Outrage: How Gay Activists and Liberal Judges Are Trashing Democracy to Redefine Marriage (Washington: Regnery, 2004-also available online). You can ignore Chapter 8 if you like, since it offers nine pages of religious arguments. Concentrate instead on Chapters 1-7, which offer 107 pages of secular arguments against same-sex marriage.

If that’s too much for you, you can read my paper “Questions and Answers; What’s Wrong with Letting Same-Sex Couples ‘Marry’?” It’s 16 pages, and 100% secular.

You might also want to read our paper titled “Ten Arguments from Social Science against Same-Sex ‘Marriage.’” (I can’t take credit for that one). All ten of the arguments are secular.

If even that 6-page paper is too long for you, take a look at my very short piece that answers the perennial question “What Harm Would Same-Sex ‘Marriage’ Do?” It describes (briefly) eight specific harms to society that would likely result from same-sex marriage. In the interest of full disclosure, I should note that this publication was originally produced as an issue-oriented “tract” in cooperation with the American Tract Society. However, the eight arguments are all secular (the American Tract Society had to request that we tack on a Scripture verse at the end in order to give it a religious flavor).

Finally, let me recommend to you David Blankenhorn’s book The Future of Marriage (New York: Encounter Books, 2007). Blankenhorn hardly qualifies as a member of the “Religious Right,” since he explicitly rejects the biblical teaching on the immorality of homosexual conduct. However, he argues vigorously against same-sex marriage in 261 pages of 100% secular arguments. My review of his book is on our website.

One final note-in your challenge you say, “And don’t try to give me that ‘marriage-is-about-raising-children’ line.” This comment is roughly equivalent to me challenging the advocates of same-sex marriage-but then adding, “And don’t try to give me that ‘equal-rights-under-law’ line.” If you want to have a serious debate, you have an obligation to interact seriously with your opponent’s chief argument-in this case, with the overwhelming historical and anthropological evidence that links marriage with procreation.

Here’s how Blankenhorn responds to what we might call “that ‘marriage-is-not-about-procreation’ line:”

By the way, did you know that cars are not intrinsically connected to driving? When you acquire ownership of a car, society does not impose on you a binding obligation to drive it. If you buy a car but fail to drive it, the state does not for that reason revoke your driver’s license or refuse to grant you one, or take your car away. If you do not drive, but do collect antique cars, there is nothing wrong or illegal about it. Cars can be about many things, including pleasure, aesthetics, economic gain, and social status. Driving is therefore not fundamental to cars.

… This way of arguing is clearly preposterous. That it is widely employed by prominent journalists, eminent judges, and tenured professors does not make it any less preposterous. We can either think like analysts looking at a social institution, or think like lawyers looking for a loophole. The evidence … shows overwhelmingly-I believe beyond any reasonable doubt-that marriage as a human institution is intrinsically connected to bearing and raising children. To argue otherwise is to argue like a lawyer looking for a loophole; it is not intellectually or morally serious, at least insofar as we actually care about the institution we are discussing (The Future of Marriage, pp. 152-153).

Rob, whether you find these arguments “good” or “solid” is a matter of opinion. But please don’t accuse us again of failing to offer secular reasons to oppose same-sex marriage.

Sincerely,

Peter Sprigg

Vice President for Policy

Family Research Council

Washington, DC

Heterosexual AIDS Pandemic Won’t Happen

by Peter Sprigg

June 9, 2008

25 years after the beginning of the AIDS epidemic, the leader of the World Health Organization’s efforts against the disease has finally admitted the obvious—there will be no worldwide AIDS pandemic among the general heterosexual population.

Whereas once it was seen as a risk to populations everywhere, it was now recognised that, outside sub-Saharan Africa, it was confined to high-risk groups including men who have sex with men, injecting drug users, and sex workers and their clients,” reported the British newspaper The Independent, which published an interview with Kevin de Cock of the WHO on June 8

In the article, however, one line stood out in particular:

Any revision of the threat was liable to be seized on by those who rejected HIV as the cause of the disease, or who used the disease as a weapon to stigmatise high risk groups, he said.”

In other words: We couldn’t tell the truth, because it might have made people think there is something wrong with homosexuality, prostitution, and drug use.

Theres no such thing as a pregnant man

by Peter Sprigg

April 16, 2008

There has been a flurry of attention in recent weeks over the revelation that a female-to-male transgender (that is, a person born female who now self-identifies as male) is currently pregnant. Although she had her breasts removed and took male hormones (which allowed her to grow a beard), this woman chose not to have her sexual organs altered as part of her transition to manhood. Still possessed of a uterus, this individual has now become pregnant by artificial insemination. Both as the butt of jokes and as a pop culture phenomenon (as certified by an appearance on Oprah), this person has been widely referred to as the pregnant man.

We owe a debt of thanks, therefore, to Boston Globe columnist Jeff Jacoby for pointing out the obviousthat Tracy LaGondino, who now uses the name Thomas Beatie, is not, in fact, a man at all, but a woman with a serious psychiatric problem known as Gender Identity Disorder. The sensation surrounding this pregnancy should remind us yet again of the ironyand utter absurdityof the claims of the homosexual and transgender movement. They would have us believe (on no evidence whatsoever) that homosexuality is genetic, fixed at birth, and immutable; while our sex, which is written in the chromosomes of every cell of our bodies, is malleable and can be changed at will.

Statement by Peter Sprigg

by Peter Sprigg

March 27, 2008

In an interview with Medill News Service that was posted on the Internet last week, I discussed FRCs opposition to an immigration bill that would allow foreign nationals who are the same-sex partners of American citizens to immigrate to the United States on the same basis as foreign spouses of American citizens. FRC does not believe that homosexual relationships are the equivalent of marriage, and we therefore oppose any legislation that would treat such relationships as the equivalent of marriage.

In response to a question regarding bi-national same-sex couples who are separated by an international border, I used language that trivialized the seriousness of the issue and did not communicate respect for the essential dignity of every human being as a person created in the image of God. I apologize for speaking in a way that did not reflect the standards which the Family Research Council and I embrace.

Fire Those Who Protect Child Porn Users, Not Those Who Report Them

by Peter Sprigg

March 18, 2008

The recent firing of a California librarian provides a dramatic example of how political correctness can turn both morality and common sense on its head. What did Brenda Biesterfeld do that cost her her job? When she saw a patron at the public library where she worked in Lindsay viewing illegal child pornography on a library computer, she did what any good citizen should doshe reported it to the police. They arrested him, and found more child porn on his home computer as well. But Biesterfelds reward for her good deed was a termination notice.

The Lindsay City Council and Tulare County Board of Supervisors are both looking into the incident, and the pro-family legal advocacy group Liberty Counsel has intervened on Biesterfelds behalf. One hopes that Biesterfeld will get her job backand that her porn-defending supervisors Judi Hill and Brian Lewis will lose theirs.

In fact, maybe its time to make public librarians mandatory reporters of child sexual abuseincluding child pornographyjust so that they know where their responsibility lies.

(See also Family Research Councils pamphlet Dealing With Pornography: A Practical Guide For Protecting Your Family and Your Community)

Archives