Tag archives: Human Sexuality

Thinking Biblically About “Pride Month”

by Joseph Backholm

June 2, 2021

On “Worldview Wednesday,” we feature an article that addresses a pressing cultural, political, or theological issue. The goal of this blog series is to help Christians think about these issues from a biblical worldview. Read our previous posts on the Center for Biblical Worldview page.

If you are on the internet, you likely know that June is “Pride Month.” Your social media feed will be filled with promotions, companies will temporarily change their logos to show that they are down with the struggle, and city streets will be lined with rainbow flags in solidarity with the sexual revolution.  

Meanwhile, many Christians will struggle with knowing how to respond. If you’re one of them, here are a few things to remember.

Pride celebrations are not new.

Although pride parades down the streets of America’s cities are a relatively recent development, people making a declaration of independence from God is so old it is almost cliché.  

In the Garden of Eden, God told Adam and Eve not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Gen. 2:16-17; 3:2-3). However, Eve, with Satan’s help, convinced herself that doing things her way would help her become like God. Perhaps she decided she was spiritual, not religious.

She observed that the tree was good for food, that it was a delight to the eyes, and that it was desirable to make one wise (Gen. 3:6). She convinced herself that her rebellion would not be rebellion at all but virtue. She found God’s rules to be stifling of her individuality and was ready to chart a new path. Her husband even joined her. They may have even felt a sense of pride as they freed themselves from the bondage of God’s rules.

Basically, Adam and Eve started these parades, and we’ve all participated in various ways and with varying degrees of enthusiasm.     

You can love the way God wants you to or the way the world wants you to, but not both.

Much will be said about love this month. T-shirts, memes, and parade signs will declare that “love is love” and that “love wins.” Whether Christians can agree with these sentiments depends on how “love” is defined. Proponents of the sexual revolution would have us believe that we show love for someone by affirming identities, indulging desires, and encouraging each other to “live your truth.” But God’s definition of love is very different.

Scripture reminds us that “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful” (1 Cor. 13:4-5). But then it goes on to remind us that love “does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth” (1 Cor. 13:6). This crucial verse is where God’s understanding of love and the world’s understanding of love diverge. God’s love forbids the celebration of things God does not celebrate. The world’s understanding of love requires it.

This means that a Christian’s unwillingness to celebrate Pride Month will be seen by the world as an act of hate and by God as an act of love. Christians must choose whose definition of love they will accept.  

Pride comes before a fall.

It’s ironic that those who started “Pride” events used the term “pride” to describe them. They named their entire movement after one of the seven deadly sins; a sin that Proverbs assures us is the prelude to our destruction: “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall” (Prov. 16:18). It is almost as if God was looking to make it obvious what was actually happening here. Just as we would be wise to avoid celebrating “Wrath Month” or a “Lust Parade,” Christians should be wary of celebrating pride. After all, we know what happens next.   

No one is beyond the love or reach of Jesus.

While Christians are right to separate themselves from celebrations of sin, we should be equally careful to avoid a different but equally bad kind of pride—self-righteousness. If Christians have any goodness within ourselves, we do not deserve the credit. After all, “[God] saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit” (Titus 3:5).

Rather than a sense of self-righteousness, Jesus modeled how our hearts should respond to people who are lost:

When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest” (Mat. 9:36-38).

When we see crowds who are lost, we should be moved to compassion, not self-righteousness.

Don’t be afraid.

This month, some will encounter a city street lined with rainbow flags or unwittingly expose their child to sexual revolutionary propaganda on Blue’s Clues and be prone to despair. Don’t despair.

Fear is never from God (2 Tim. 1:7). Whatever situation you are dealing with, God is not surprised by it, nor is it beyond His control. However, He knows we are prone to worry, which is why Peter encourages us to cast all our anxieties on Him (1 Peter 5:7). The same God who formed the mountains and put the planets into orbit is aware of the situation and handling it.

The good news is that our moments of weakness are the moments God does His best work in us. While the culture takes pride in their independence from God, we should boast in our dependence:  

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me (2 Cor. 12:9).

Maybe we should start our own pride parade; it would be kind of the same but also very different.

To Counter the Transgender Lie, We Must Speak Truth

by Lisa

May 3, 2021

This is the final part of a 3-part series. Read part 1 and part 2.

To beat the billionaire boys’ club at their game we must first reject their end goal of disembodiment. They seek to eliminate human physical limitations in favor of a new hybrid form of humanity. They are simply beginning this march toward madness using the construct of gender. (For much more on this topic, look up the work of Jennifer Bilek.)

Money’s ideas on “gender identity” should be rejected, not lauded. They should be exposed for what they are: a bag of linguistic tricks used by a man who needed to be covert in his attempt to sexualize young children. Rothblatt and Pritzker must also be called out for what they are: two men who decided to create an intricate legal framework to take their sexual proclivities mainstream while adding billions to their bottom lines.       

We must remember that those who control the language control the narrative. This is why the idea of “preferred pronouns” was introduced. The outlandish concept, while clearly a bastardization of the English language, is the ideal way to get an unsuspecting public to willingly utter outright lies that serve the goals of the trans medical industrial complex. 

The media conglomerates are already slaves to these goals. That’s how we end up with a Time magazine cover featuring the actress Ellen Page as a supposed man who goes by the name Elliot. Time must lie like this to appease the medical/pharmaceutical industry and the billionaires in charge of it. You, on the other hand, do not have to lie like Time.    

We lose the battle for humanity and sanity every time we help Pritzker, Rothblatt & Co. advance their cause by using their made-up language. If we don’t stand up and stop playing their game now, it will soon be too late.    

Trans advocates are calling for prison for those who “misgender” or “deadname” someone (two other made-up words in the ever-evolving trans lexicon). People in the UK have been sent to jail (see here and here) for violating hate speech laws that require people to use “preferred pronouns” on social media. A Canadian man went to jail in March for using the pronoun “she” in reference to his daughter (his ex-wife claims the girl is actually a “he”).

Some trans advocates claim the concept of a gender reveal party actually “promotes violence” because it involves parents imposing their ideas of gender onto a helpless unborn baby. More and more trans activists are calling for puberty blockers to be mandated for all children worldwide so each can pick their gender of choice on a timeline they decide. (Tumblr currently offers its users 121 genders to pick from. Go check them out to see what the billionaires have in store for our future.)

If you’re bold enough to refuse to cave on the pronoun posse, you will be immediately attacked by all those who’ve been indoctrinated by trans ideology. They will usually pick a fight with you by throwing down what I call “the story card.” This involves telling a personal story about a friend or a friend of a friend who was supposedly so unhappy until the day he/she/they realized that he/she/they is actually transgender. This friend eventually transitioned and now he/she/they is the happiest he/she/they has ever been.

In response to a story like this, all one need say is: It ain’t over until the well-proportioned individual who may or may not still identify as a lady sings.

Many people who identify as trans who first claim to be thrilled with their transition end up living to regret it. A profound sadness often sets in after the hormone honeymoon wears off. (People who go on cross-sex hormones typically feel an immediate boost in mood. This is, in part, why so many depressed teenage girls are seeking them out.)

Every day, more and more people who once bought the lies perpetuated by Money (and money) are now de-transitioning back to their God-given sex. People like Elle Palmer, Charlotte Evans, Walt Heyer, Keira Bell, and Linda Seiler are just a few of the many vocal de-transitioners now dedicated to speaking the truth about the trans-medical industry and its insatiable need for victims (and victims’ money). Websites like DetransVoices.org and SexChangeRegret.com are gaining in popularity even as they’re suppressed or outright banned by Google and its subsidiaries. Videos and books featuring the personal stories of de-transitioners abound, although Americans are currently forbidden from viewing many of these people’s videos on YouTube or buying their books on Amazon.      

The issue of how transitioning has ruined the lives of millions will surely reach a fever pitch in years to come. So the next time someone throws down a trans “story card” then follows it up by explaining how “trans people need the support of their cisgender peers,” stop them right there. First, tell them you will not dignify the use of the term “cisgender.” This is yet another made-up word brought to us by all the usual suspects. Cisgender supposedly means a person who identifies as the gender related to his or her biological sex. In other words, it’s everyone who isn’t trans. Using this word gives those of us who have not succumbed to Money’s lies our own brand of pathology related to gender identity.

The billionaire boys’ club desperately needs everyone to use their nonsense words (like cisgender) because it tricks the public into thinking their grift has gravitas.  

A 2011 U.S. study found that 41 percent of transgender participants reported attempting suicide in comparison to 1.6 percent of the general population. Is this because people aren’t accepting of them or because they have mental health problems the rest of the population does not? The Centre for Suicide Prevention says on its website that transgender people experience mental illness at a much higher rate than the general population. While 6.7 percent of the U.S. general population suffers from depression and 18 percent grapple with some form of anxiety, nearly half of all people who identify as transgender experience one or both of these issues. Telling these people that they should try to change every single part of their physical bodies in order to feel better is abhorrent. Their problem is not in the body, it’s in the mind.  

If we instead begin celebrating people who break traditional gender stereotypes (instead of telling them to get a series of surgeries), we would start to make progress where mental health is concerned. We should applaud any boy who has personality traits or interests typically considered feminine. We should encourage any girl who demonstrates more traditionally masculine qualities or an interest in boys’ sports or hobbies. But of course the trans medical complex doesn’t want us celebrating these individuals because the moment we do, they can no longer herd them into their gender clinics.   

If my 8-year-old told me she felt like she might be a mermaid, I wouldn’t take her to a doctor and ask him to amputate her legs and replace them with a tail. Yet our new Assistant Secretary of Health believes that minors should be able to determine their own gender without parental consent. There are currently many trans activists advancing the idea that a child should be taken away from his or her parents if the parents refuse to let him or her transition.    

All it takes is a confused teenage girl stopping by her school counselor’s office and mentioning that she doesn’t feel totally at ease in her body (what teen girl does?) to get a reference to a gender identity specialist who can then send her directly to Planned Parenthood for cross-sex hormones. She can change her name and pronouns and “come out” to friends and family as transgender the very next day. And all this can happen without parental consent.

For the sake of our children, we can no longer be silent. We must collectively commit to never use the words that pedophile advocate John Money and the billionaire boys’ club came up with. We must start referring to people by the pronouns associated with their biological sex. We must not care about what names we get called or what relationships we lose in the process. We must stop perpetuating the idea that calling people by their “preferred pronouns” is somehow virtuous. Taking care not to offend through speech is not a virtue. Telling the truth is. 

We must tell others about the origins of the gender identity movement (before Google memory holes everything having to do with John Money).   

We must tell others about the billionaires who decided to take their fetishes mainstream in order to make bank.

We must advocate for people who identify as transgender so they can get help for their very real mental health issues instead of getting more surgeries that usher them deeper into their delusions.

We must explain to everyone that transgenderism is but a temporary stop on the road to transhumanism.  

By speaking these truths, we have a chance at saving our culture from the lie that is transgenderism.

The Staggering Reach of Billionaire Transgender Activists

by Lisa

April 29, 2021

This is part 2 of a 3-part series. Read part 1.

The first billionaire we have to thank for pushing incessant trans propaganda on our children is a man named James Pritzker. Pritzker came out as transgender in his 60s and now goes by the name Jennifer. The Pritzker family has been on the Forbes magazine Top 10 list of “America’s Richest Families” since the list began in 1982. The Pritzkers founded the Hyatt Hotel chain. They also own an airline, a cruise line, and a tobacco company (which they sold in 2006 for $3.5 billion). The Pritzkers sold their largest holding company (with 60 corporations) in 2010 to Berkshire Hathaway for $4.5 billion. But it’s the medical industrial complex where the Pritzkers have staked a lot of their current investments

After Pritzker announced he was a trans woman, he donated $6.5 million to the Program in Human Sexuality at the University of Minnesota and just under $6 million to the Palm Center (an LGBTQ think tank to study trans people in the military). He donated $2 million to install the world’s first “Chair of Trans Studies” at the University of Victoria, British Columbia, and he donated another $1 million to Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago for a Gender and Sex Development Program.

Pritzker, along with fellow trans-identifying billionaire Martin Rothblatt (who now goes by Martine) began throwing hundreds of millions of dollars at both cultural and educational organizations around the globe on the condition that those groups would, in turn, indoctrinate people with Money’s ideas on gender identity.   

Way back in the ‘90s, Rothblatt hired three trans activist lawyers to create an “international, legal framework for the cultural acceptance of sexual identities not embodied in biological reality.” In other words, what we are watching unfold in our country right now has been in the works for decades. Boys being allowed to compete in girls’ sports and take away their scholarships was conceived long ago with the legal framework being laid long before LGB ever recognized the T.  

But the trans agenda coming from the billionaire boys’ club doesn’t end with laws that embolden people who swap out one gender for another. The mission that Pritzker and Rothblatt have embarked on is far greater.

Rothblatt used to work for NASA, and he is the founder of Sirius Satellite Radio (worth $26 billion). He also founded the pharmaceutical company United Therapeutics ($4.5 billion). United Therapeutics is the world’s largest cloner of pigs. In fact, Rothblatt wrote his doctoral dissertation on xenotransplantation which is the transplantation of living cells, organs, or tissues from one species to another. (Can you see where this is going yet?)

Rothblatt doesn’t just identify as transgender; he also identifies as transhuman.

Rothblatt’s Terasem Foundation seeks to promote technological immortality via mind uploading and nanotechnology. The four pillars of Terasem include: 1) Life is purposeful; 2) Death is optional; 3) God is technological; 4) Love is essential.

Rothblatt believes humans are capable of living forever and has created an organization dedicated to extending human life through cryogenics and cyber consciousness. His website Lifenaut allows people to save a “digital back-up” of both their mind and genetic code. He even commissioned a humanoid robot to be made using his wife as the model. This robot has made many speaking appearances and been interviewed by numerous newspapers, including The New York Times.  

In the Journal of Evolution and Technology (Vol. 18, May 2008), Rothblatt wrote an article called “Are we Transbemans Yet?” He identifies a “beme” as a unit of someone’s character or nature that behaves like a gene but is not bound to a physical location. Under the section of the article entitled “Reinventing Our Species” Rothblatt says, “We can replicate life without DNA…while it is true that without DNA there will be no flesh, that does not mean that there will be no self. Expressing the bemes of our consciousness in a computer substrate is still an expression of us.” He goes on to say, “Just as human DNA gives rise to humans, human BNA gives rise to bemans.” He talks about new kinds of bodies we will soon have and new kinds of laws that will be needed as a result.

Rothblatt says there is a direct correlation between the acceptance of a person’s right to alter their gender and the acceptance of a person’s right to become transhuman (or transbeman). He says what we need is a total reimagining of what it means to be human.

In other words, transgenderism is only the tip of a much larger iceberg.  

Now numerous LGBTQ organizations funded by the billionaire class are insisting on new public school curriculum that will spread their ideology to children in grades K-12. It began with requiring schools to teach “the role and contributions of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people” in history textbooks. One of the first states to adopt this was Illinois where James Pritzker’s cousin, Illinois governor J.B. Pritzker, signed it into law.

New teaching at the K-12 level will be far more extreme. The California Department of Education has a plan to teach kindergarteners that there are 15 different genders to choose from. Because insane ideas such as these are already being taught in parts of Europe, we now have elementary schools reporting a skyrocketing rate of students seeking to transition. One teacher in a British school revealed she knows of 17 students in the process of switching genders. She claims many of them were vulnerable kids with autism or mental health issues who were tricked into believing they were born the wrong sex.

You see, if people like Pritzker and Rothblatt can confuse a child about gender before he or she hits puberty, it means greater financial gains for them. Because both men have a stake in the trans-medical industrial complex, if they can confuse children when they are very young (elementary school age), they can profit off puberty blockers in addition to life-long hormone treatments and countless surgeries at the gender clinics they’re invested in.

Remember, a single trans customer will pay for many surgeries over a lifetime (vaginoplasties, facial feminizations, vocal cord reconstructions, breast implants, Adam’s apple shavings, even “womb transplants” for men). This all adds up to big bucks in these billionaire bank accounts.

Once Planned Parenthood saw how much money there was to be made in the trans medical business, they too rushed in to provide people with cross-sex hormones under what they call “gender affirming therapy.” They are now the second largest provider of this service.

The entire trans industry works like this: First, create a false problem (confuse kids through teaching them about gender identity). Then introduce a solution to the false problem (come fix your problems at one of our gender clinics where you’ll be a life-long customer).

The billionaire boys’ club knew they needed to brainwash the masses to accept the new gender ideology in order for their business plan to work. Several key changes in the cultural lexicon were first necessary in order to shift people’s thinking at a subconscious level. To start, the word “transexual” had to be done away with so people wouldn’t associate the trans movement with sex (even though there is most definitely an association). Many so-called “trans men” are males who have a bizarre sexual fetish called “autogynephilia.” Autogynephilia is the objectification of women to the point of wanting to embody a female oneself. (See Dr. Ray Blanchard’s research for more on this.)

Both Pritzker and Rothblatt appear to meet the standard definition of an autogynephiliac: a man who enjoys cross-dressing so much that he develops a sexual fetish around it. In the past decade, there has been a massive, concerted effort by trans activists to normalize this fetish by taking it public. But the word “transexual” was conveniently replaced with the more respectable sounding “transgender”—a word that inherently implies a person has no choice in what “gender identity” they become. They were simply “assigned the wrong gender” at birth.  

Altering language this way is a classic John Money tactic. Money was the person responsible for shifting everyone away from using the term “sexual preference” to the term “sexual orientation.” To have a sexual preference implies a person has a say in who they desire to have sex with. A sexual orientation, on the other hand, implies the person was born with those desires and they, therefore, remain totally out of their control. (Can you see why a pedophile might prefer option B?)     

(It should be noted that the subject of “gender identity” is not the only arena where Money’s language tactics are used. The Scientific American recently announced they would no longer be using the words “climate change” but would instead substitute the term “climate emergency.” Other publications rushed to follow their lead.)  

Read part 3.

You Can’t Twist Scripture to Force Women to Compete Against Men in Sports

by David Closson

March 26, 2021

On Monday, South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem (R) vetoed House Bill 1217, legislation that would protect women from being forced to compete against biological men in sporting events. In a press conference announcing the veto, Noem said she supported a bill to protect middle and high school girls but argued that extending the same protections to female collegiate athletes would prompt lawsuits from groups like the NCAA.

While most conservatives were frustrated by Noem’s capitulation on the transgender sports bill, one faith group, the South Dakota Synod Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), actually encouraged Noem to veto it. Signed by about 30 church leaders, the short letter read:

Dear Governor Noem:

Grace and peace to you in this season of Lent. I reach out to you today on behalf of the 200 South Dakota congregations, ministry sites and organizations of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). As Lutherans, baptized members in the body of Christ, we care about the actions of our government because it is a gift from God intended for the safety and flourishing of human life. Yet, as sinners in need of God’s grace and forgiveness, the gift and power of government is abused. It is why I am urging you to veto HB 1217 that claims to promote “fairness” in women’s sports. In the Gospel according to Luke, Jesus asks his disciples, “which one of you, having a hundred sheep and losing one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go after the one that is lost until he finds it?” After the lost sheep is found Jesus says, “rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.” (ref. Luke 15:4-6) Meaning that there is no rejoicing until all have found a place in the flock — including our trans siblings of faith. Policies and laws that purposely exclude trans individuals contribute to deteriorating mental health. The Trevor Project reports that 40% of transgender adults reported having made a suicide attempt, and that over 90% of those attempts took place before the age of 25. Looking after the lost one means inclusion and compassion. God the incarnate goes to the far stretches of the Earth to find the lost and calls them home by name, “you are mine.” (Isaiah 43:1) As people of faith, we are invited to do the same. Please, as a beloved child of God, do not forget about the one child, when you have the ninety-nine with you.

As Christians, it is important to think carefully about current events. When it comes to matters of public policy, there are many issues that do not have a clear-cut answer for how believers should think. This requires restraint and humility. On the other hand, there are some topics—such as abortion—where Scripture speaks clearly. Christians, especially pastors and Christian leaders must be clear about their convictions.

This brings us to the recent letter to Governor Noem. One of the most important responsibilities a minister of the gospel has is caring for hurting people. As Christ’s under-shepherds, pastors are called to serve people with love and care (Acts 20:28). Thus, it is appropriate when ministers discuss legislation they believe will affect their congregants and those in their ministries. However, the recent letter to the South Dakota governor is problematic for a few reasons, chiefly its misuse and appropriation of Scripture.

But first, it is important to note their letter contains some helpful reminders. For example, they are right to acknowledge that positions of leadership, especially in government, can be challenging. They also acknowledged that man is fallen and broken due to sin. Moreover, the desire to love our neighbors who identify as transgender is commendable, as Christ has called the church to love everyone (Mt. 5:43-48, Luke 6:27-36). Their reminders along these lines are helpful.

However, there are a few problems about the letter that deserve attention. First, our love of neighbor must be modeled after the pattern of Christ, not the world (Rom. 12:2). We cannot adopt the world’s understanding of love, which demands affirmation of lifestyles and actions contrary to the will of God as revealed in Scripture. According to the leaders who signed the letter, love for their friends who identify as transgender requires accepting transgender ideology which contradicts the Bible’s teaching on sexuality.

Second, the letter misuses Scripture to make its main point. In its proper context, the parable of the lost sheep in Luke 15:1-7 is about salvation and pursuing lost people (i.e., those who do not have a relationship with God). The shepherd goes after the one lost sheep because it is lost; he rescues it and shows it the way of life. This parable (and the subsequent parables of the lost coin and the prodigal son) discloses Christ’s heart and His redemptive love for sinners. It encourages believers following His example to pursue those who do not have a relationship with God in order to show them the way of life.  

Clearly, Jesus’ intention in telling the parable of the lost sheep was not to make sure “all have found a place in the flock” (if inclusion in the flock means disregarding and flouting clear biblical teaching). Again, the context of the passage is about repentance and salvation. Jesus’ explanation of the parable makes it clear that He is talking specifically about sinners who repent. Moreover, Scripture is very clear about God’s design and purpose for marriage and human sexuality.  

Citing the parable of the lost sheep as evidence that Christians ought to oppose a bill that would protect women and girls’ sports is not a faithful interpretation of Luke 15. Christians are called to tell the truth, and that includes the truth that God made us male and female. It is not unloving or unkind to truthfully (1 Cor. 13:6) point out the many injustices and physical dangers associated with allowing biological males to compete against biological females. 

It is never permissible to misuse Scripture to advance a political agenda. Moreover, there is no reason for Christians to oppose commonsense legislation that protects women and girls at all levels of athletic competition. In fact, supporting legislation like House Bill 1217 is a practical way to protect female athletes. This bill deserves support, not condemnation, from Christian leaders in South Dakota and around the country.

Thinking Biblically About Love

by Joseph Backholm

March 17, 2021

On “Worldview Wednesday,” we feature an article that addresses a pressing cultural, political, or theological issue. The goal of this blog series is to help Christians think about these issues from a biblical worldview. Read our previous posts Thinking Biblically About Unity, Thinking Biblically About Safety, and Thinking Biblically About “Christian Nationalism”.

This week, the Vatican made headlines when it released a statement that said the Catholic Church cannot bless same-sex relationships because God “does not and cannot bless sin: he blesses sinful man, so that he may recognize that he is part of his plan of love and allow himself to be changed by him. He in fact ‘takes us as we are, but never leaves us as we are.’”   

The Vatican’s announcement shouldn’t have come as such a shock. This has been the orthodox Christian belief since the time Jesus walked the earth. Nevertheless, the reactions were predictable.

Don Lemon, a CNN television personality who identifies as gay, had this response: “I would say to the pope and the Vatican and all Christians or Catholics … go out and meet people and try to understand people and do what the Bible and what Jesus actually said, if you believe in Jesus, and that is to love your fellow man and judge not lest ye be not [sic] judged” (paraphrasing Mt. 7:1).

Lemon’s call for love is not surprising, and Christians agree in principle that part of following Jesus is loving people. Jesus told His disciples the night before His crucifixion, “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35 ESV). Years later, the apostle John wrote to his fellow believers, “Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another” (1 John 4:11).

But what is biblical love?   

Many, like Don Lemon, equate love with tolerance. From this perspective, it is unloving to say that same-sex relationships are sinful because that isn’t tolerant. However, God does not conflate love and tolerance.  

In God’s world, loving people is a priority, but it is not the highest priority. Loving God is the highest priority: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Mt. 22:37-39).

We love God first and foremost through our obedience to Him and His word. As Jesus said, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments” (John 14:15). And again, “Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me” (John 14:21).

Part of our obedience to God is loving those He created, and He tells us how to do that. The apostle Paul penned one of the Bible’s most famous expositions on what love of neighbor looks like: “Love is patient, love is kind, it is not jealous; love does not brag, it is not arrogant. It does not act disgracefully, it does not seek its own benefit; it is not provoked, does not keep an account of a wrong suffered … it keeps every confidence, it believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things” (1 Cor. 13: 4-5,7 NASB).

There is much in this list for the “love is tolerance” crowd to like. But in the midst of this list is a verse that is absolutely critical to understanding the difference between biblical love and the world’s conception of love. That verse is, love “does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth.”  (1 Cor. 13:6).

This is the point where, as Robert Frost would say, “two roads diverged in the wood…” The world’s understanding of love requires a celebration of unrighteousness, whereas God’s definition of love forbids it. Christians must choose.

This choice may be challenging for those who have spent their Christian lives conflating love with likability and tolerance. Jesus tells us to “let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven” (Mt. 5:16 ESV). Does this mean that if people don’t like what we do in the name of God, we’re doing it wrong? Not necessarily. Loving people well does not always translate into people liking you. Just ask Jesus. They killed Him. He warned His disciples before His death that the world would hate them, too, on account of Him (John 15:18-25). We do not need to fear our fellow man, however, because God is our helper (Ps. 118:5-9, Rom. 8:31-39).

The fact is, a lot of people don’t want to be loved by God; they want to be indulged by God—and everyone else. However, if we love God, there are things we can’t indulge. As Christians, it is not our job to be liked by people; it is our job to love people like Jesus did—with a love that is patient and kind, a love that does not rejoice in unrighteousness but rejoices with the truth.

The reason why Christians can’t celebrate unrighteousness is important—the entire gospel hinges upon it. It is our unrighteousness that separates us from God and sentences us to eternity in hell. Fortunately, there is a solution (John 3:16, Rom. 6:23), but celebrating the problem is unhelpful because it obscures the solution. 

Loving as God loves and refusing to celebrate unrighteousness may bother Don Lemon and others, but it won’t bother Jesus, and pleasing Him is much more important. To borrow another line from Robert Frost, “I took the road less traveled and that has made all the difference.” Or, as Jesus said, “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few” (Mt. 7:13-14).

How Biden’s Therapy Bans Will Harm “LGBT Youth” Like Me

by Erica

January 26, 2021

A recent Washington Post headline proclaims that “Biden’s ambitious LGBT agenda poises him to be nation’s most pro-equality president in history.” He allegedly earns this title by supporting several pro-LGBT policies. Specifically, one of Biden’s promises states that he will support legislative efforts to ban what critics of the practice call “conversion therapy”—counseling to help a person resist and overcome unwanted same-sex attractions. As someone who has greatly benefited from practices that would be outlawed or restricted by this legislation, I adamantly believe that Biden’s LGBT platform will cause harm to the very people it aims to help. 

High school and college years are a season of life where identity formation is so critical. Gen Z is currently entering adulthood in a world where the media and culture encourages us to explore every aspect of our identity. And believe it or not, I am all for learning different sides and opinions of any topic. I believe that young people are smart and equipped to weigh alternatives and make decisions for themselves. We owe it to them, as a nation founded on freedom, to have the opportunity to explore what they want their life to look like. 

The issue is that when it comes to sexuality, this freedom to explore only seems to extend as far as what fits within the pro-LGBT agenda. With the push of legislation like the Therapeutic Fraud Prevention Act that seeks to ban all sexual orientation change efforts, youth will be left hearing only one view and one set of answers when it comes to sexuality. These bans will eliminate the ability for Christians like me with questions about same-sex attraction to hear a perspective that greatly helped me to find freedom and grow in my faith.

Accessing resources to help me discern a biblical sexual ethic and receiving discipleship on how to live that out, from both staff at my college and a ministry group, has been far from the harmful experience often depicted in media and promoted by LGBT activists. In stark contrast to these dramatic and harmful stories of “conversion therapy” often told, my experiences in these communities are where I have found some of the most Christ-like love. Ironically, the word that I would use to sum up my experience would be “acceptance.” Those supporting bans on sexual orientation change efforts are claiming to want to provide acceptance to LGBT youth. While I believe they may have their hearts in the right place, these supporters need to know that the actual result of these policies being put into place will not be true inclusion. 

Through enacting these proposals, Joe Biden will be opposing the very places and people that have embraced me in deep and meaningful ways. Had there been a ban on “conversion therapy” while I was seeking these resources, I firmly believe my story would be drastically different—and I would identify as gay. This is something that I now believe is incongruent with my faith and I have found deeper satisfaction and overall well-being in walking out my biblical convictions. Yet, stories like mine are not often told or accepted since they do not fit the common, Hollywood-ready narrative being promoted. 

In light of President Joe Biden’s LGBT platform, I urge you to ask yourself a foundational question: what really is “equality”? Is it boxing every person with questions like mine into coming to the same conclusion, to labeling ourselves simply as an “L” or a “G” or a “B” or a “T”? Or is it allowing true freedom of opportunity to seek out the places and support we believe are best for our convictions, to allow us to put more than just one letter to our story? 

A Christian Girl’s Response To a Christian Guy’s Struggle With Pornography

by Cassidy Rich

October 19, 2020

Dear brothers in Christ, I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry that you are bombarded every single day with images that truly shouldn’t exist. Images of girls showing parts of their bodies that only their husband should see. I’m so sorry that this is such an enormous avenue that Satan uses to warp your mind and rewire your brain to objectify women. While I can’t speak for all girls, I can and will speak for myself: I understand and feel compassion for you in this fight.

Studies continue to find that well over 70 percent of young men these days view pornography on a weekly basis. Articles that were published 20 years ago are still just as relevant today: Porn teaches men that women are less than human and provides a false sense of intimacy. 

I used to tell myself that I could never be in a relationship with or marry a guy who struggles with porn. “How could I love and be loved by a guy who looks at other women like that?” I thought. As I’ve given this more thought and done my own research, I’ve begun to realize something: In Christian communities, young people are told that sex before marriage is wrong, which it is, and in some ways encouraged to avoid the opposite sex until it’s time for marriage. Does this mean that we aren’t sexual beings until we are ready for marriage? Of course not. We are created to be sexual beings. Guys, it is normal for you to have those feelings. I don’t think Christians acknowledge that enough.

Avoid each other until you’re ready for marriage” was the message I received from different Christian dating books and conferences, which shall remain unnamed. In my experience, many Christian communities want to pretend like young Christians can not only abstain from sexual experiences, but abstain even from sexual feelings until the wedding night. It seems like young men in particular (though the number of young women who are struggling with porn is growing) feel that they don’t know what to do with these sexual urges and therefore, porn gives them an outlet that they can justify by telling themselves it isn’t hurting anyone and is allowing them to leave Christian girls alone so they can remain pure.

Understanding the struggle of pornography in this way, it made more sense to me why Christian guys view it. And it filled me with compassion. Porn can be as addicting as drugs, and guys get a “hit” from it just like you would if you partook of a basic street drug. Our overly sexualized culture says that porn is exciting, smartphones make it way too easy to access it, and Satan is constantly lying to us by saying that it doesn’t hurt anybody. For guys, being the visual creatures that God created you to be, the bombardment of these lies makes it seemingly impossible to resist the urge that so easily creeps up in everyday life. But it IS possible to resist, if you’re willing to fight.

We, as Christians especially, need to remember that God created sex and that within marriage, it’s beautiful. Young Christians need to hear that these sexual feelings are not evil, but are God-given and are best fulfilled in marriage. They need to be guided towards preparing for and finding a spouse much earlier than the current national average of nearly 30 years old. Flirting, holding hands, hugging, and even kissing before you get married aren’t sins. Every couple is different and can set their own standards within biblical parameters, but we should stop fearing that anything beyond a side hug is going to make us lose control.

So to my sisters, let’s pray for our brothers in Christ that we can have an understanding approach. And guys, let us help you fight. Please know that when you view porn, whether you realize it or not, you’re comparing real life girls with the porn stars. Porn stars are digitally enhanced women who are often abused and in very unhealthy situations during the production of porn. These girls are someone’s sister or daughter. It’s not right for you to think that you can only be attracted to girls who look this way just because that’s what you’re viewing on your screen. Porn makes you value unrealistic outward appearances, not a girl’s personality and character.

If God puts a girl in your life who is chasing after Him, loves others, and who you just have fun with, pursue that girl and don’t let her go! Am I saying you should marry a girl you’re not physically attracted to? Nope. I’m saying you’ll be surprised at how physically attractive she is when you start valuing the right things. Don’t let porn make it more difficult for you to physically and emotionally connect with a real girl. That’s unhealthy for you and will honestly ruin your life. After long-term exposure to porn, you will find yourself turning to it when you are under stress, lonely, sad, struggling, or just plain bored. It becomes a coping strategy when problems arise.

One of the keys to overcoming porn addiction is developing strong relationships with real people. You must begin by being truthful with yourself. As you search inside yourself and pray for God to open your eyes, it is vital to recognize how pornography has influenced your life. How has it affected your overall happiness and well-being? How has it changed the quality of your relationships? How has it affected your spiritual life and your relationship with God? Through honest evaluation, you will see things you want to change. This desire for change is a good, God-honoring point in your life. Take advantage of the resources out there to hold you accountable. You can overcome this. It will be well worth it for you, your future wife, your future children, and society as a whole.

Cassidy Rich formerly served at FRC. She grew up in a large homeschooled family, loves kids, and ministers in her church’s childcare program. After living in Washington, D.C. for almost three years, she moved back home to Arizona to be closer to her awesome family.

Zuckerberg’s Two-Faced Support of “Free Expression” and Censorship of Therapy

by Peter Sprigg

August 4, 2020

Congressman Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) grilled the CEOs of Amazon, Apple, Google, and Facebook about censorship of conservative voices online in a congressional hearing July 29. He asked each if they were “concerned about the ‘cancel culture’ mob and what it’s up to.”

Here is what Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg said in reply:

Yes, Congressman. I believe strongly in free expression. Giving people a voice is an important part of what our services do, and I’m very worried about some of the forces of illiberalism that I see in this country that are pushing against free expression. I think that this is one of the fundamental democratic traditions that we have in our country. And it’s how we make progress over the long term on a number of issues. And our company is committed to doing what we can to protect people’s voice.

If Zuckerberg means what he said in his sworn testimony to Congress, step one would be to immediately reverse his company’s decision to “cancel” all content supportive of sexual orientation and gender identity change efforts (SOCE or GICE)—usually referred to by its critics as “conversion therapy.”

According to news reports, on July 10, a spokesperson for Facebook and Instagram, Tara Hopkins, their public policy director for Europe, the Middle East, and Africa, issued a statement saying that Facebook would remove all content promoting so-called “conversion therapy.” CNN reported that this was an expansion of Facebook’s “existing policies on hate speech worldwide.”

Ms. Hopkins reportedly said,

We don’t allow attacks against people based on sexual orientation or gender identity and are updating our policies to ban the promotion of conversion therapy services.

It’s puzzling that an offer to help willing participants achieve their own personally-chosen goal of overcoming unwanted same-sex attractions or becoming comfortable with their biological sex would be considered an “attack against people based on sexual orientation or gender identity.”

On the other hand, it seems logical that “attacks against people based on sexual orientation or gender identity” would include attacks upon people who self-identify as ex-gay based upon their sexual orientation (as well as attacks against people who formerly identified as transgendered but who have de-transitioned based upon their gender identity).

But Facebook’s new policy is not prevention against attacks on individuals self-identifying as ex-gay—it is apparently the successful result of them. The announcement of the new policy follows a systematic campaign of social media attacks upon a U.K. man named Mike Davidson and his organization Core Issues Trust (CIT). These attacks were waged precisely because of Davidson’s self-identified sexual orientation as ex-gay.

It is particularly ironic that Mr. Davidson is being accused of “hate speech,” given the communications he has received from his critics:

CIT’s Facebook page has been barraged with pornographic images — some suggesting pederasty — from activists posting to CIT’s account. . .  

A phone text received by Mike Davidson, who leads both groups, told him, “Kill yourself… I hope you drop dead.  I hope you and your family are raped and killed. Do it. Kill yourself. Just do it.”

Ms. Hopkins of Facebook goes on:

We are always reviewing our policies and will continue to consult with experts and people with personal experiences to inform our approach.

I’m not aware of Facebook consulting with any therapists who actually conduct sexual orientation change efforts—although they would seem to be the people with the most “expertise” on the subject. Nor does Facebook seem to have consulted with people whose “personal experiences” include having benefited from undertaking sexual orientation change efforts. Facebook’s “approach” will not be “informed” if they listen to only one viewpoint.

Another news report, in the LGBT publication the Washington Blade, says:

Mathew Shurka, co-founder of Born Perfect, a project run by him and the National Center for Lesbian Rights that is dedicated to ending conversion therapy, worked with Instagram and Facebook to create a system to identify content promoting the practice.

Shurka is an LGBT activist who has told legislatures a far-fetched tale that when he attended a weekend retreat with an ex-gay ministry called Journey Into Manhood, “Not everyone walked out alive.” As the National Task Force for Therapy Equality has noted,

Perhaps the most disturbing part of Shurka’s testimony is that no one, not even the press, asked him why he didn’t report the so-called “deaths” that occurred during his experience with Journey Into Manhood. Surely, if a crime, suicide, or homicide had occurred, a police report would have been filed. Yet, these stories continue to be recorded as testimony in front of state legislatures and printed in gay activist media outlets . . .

So Facebook consulted with a political activist on only one side of a controversial issue (one of dubious credibility), and then announced a sweeping new policy of complete censorship without even consulting the other side.

Now, an article posted by Media Matters suggested some organizations they think Facebook should censor under the new policy. To illustrate its point, the article featured some of the social media content these organizations have posted. Ironically, the 17 (!) posts effectively debunk much of what is usually said by those seeking to ban SOCE.

One of them said,

My change has meant I have been able to fulfill my desire to remain with my wife and family . . .

Is this an unworthy goal? Can any sensible person call it “hate speech?”

Another one said,

It is … unethical for therapists to impose their agendas on clients.

One would think that would be a key point of common ground with critics of SOCE. Is it “hate speech?”

Another one said,

This therapy does not attempt to change an individual from being gay to straight, but rather it helps an individual to heal from past hurts and fear.

Again, heavy-handed attempts “to change an individual from being gay to straight” are what the critics are concerned about. This post ought to be reassuring. Does Facebook consider it “hate speech?”

I’ve learned of at least one Christian ministry in the U.S. that has had their entire Facebook page removed as of July 23. It’s called “Healing for the Soul.”

What does Facebook have against “Healing for the Soul?”

More to the point—where’s the “aversion therapy?” The electric shocks? Where’s the coercion—especially of minors? Where are the sweeping guarantees of immediate, total transformation? Where are the licensed mental health providers saying all you have to do is “pray away the gay?” Where’s the “shaming” of people with same-sex attractions? Where are all the horror stories that are regularly trotted out to justify imposing unprecedented legal restrictions upon the goals of private psychotherapy?

Where’s the “homophobia?” Where’s the “hate?”

It seems pretty clear to me that the reason the LGBT activists are concerned about what’s on Facebook is not because people are finding “lies” about “conversion therapy” there—it’s because they are afraid people may find the truth, unfiltered by the distortions of LGBT activists and their lackeys in the “mainstream” media.

Transgenderism is Now Rated G

by Arielle Leake

July 17, 2020

The Baby-Sitters Club is a new Netflix series based on the popular children’s books by the same name published in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s. The books—and now the television series—follow the lives of four 12-year-old girls and their entrepreneurial babysitting endeavors. Unfortunately, parents who fondly remember the books from their own childhood should think twice before allowing their impressionable children to watch this G-rated show.

Transgenderism is brazenly presented, unchallenged, and actively celebrated. The fourth episode of the show “Mary Ann Saves the Day” prominently displays the show’s cultural indoctrination. One of the four main characters, Mary Ann, is tasked with babysitting Bailey, a young boy who firmly believes he is a girl and lives a transgender lifestyle. The episode is fraught with highly concerning dialogue and messaging. For example, Mary Ann’s friend explains Bailey’s lifestyle to her by saying, “We all want our insides to match our outsides.” This explanation clearly illustrates the two-story dualism underlying the transgender movement or, as Nancy Pearcy puts it in her book Love Thy Body, “the idea that your brain can be at war with your body.”

The scriptwriters are so committed to the idea that your feelings control who you really are that they cannot even promote healthy encouragement. When Mary Ann, who struggles with self-confidence (as most tween girls do), exclaims that she is “a pathetic cry-baby,” the only help her friend can offer is to say, “If you believe you are a pathetic cry-baby who am I to tell you otherwise.” It could have been a moment used to show young girls how to support and encourage one another while not affirming a lie someone believes about themselves. Instead, all the show can muster is a weak statement meant to shove forward the philosophy that how you feel dictates who you are.

Mary Ann finally finds her “confidence” when she takes it upon herself to reprimand the doctor and nurse who dare to address Bailey by his biological sex. Mary Ann instructs them that “from here on out,” they should “recognize her for who she is.” Further, she requests that they bring Bailey something other than the standard blue hospital nightgown, which he evidently finds highly offensive.

Even more appalling, those in the position of authority—both the medical professionals and the child’s parents—willingly go along with the young child’s whims. Instead of helping him see who God created him to be, they encourage his harmful fascinations and reinforce the idea that fitting a certain “stereotype,” whether it be wearing blue or playing tea parties, is what makes you a male or female.

As a young woman, I am disappointed to see a show that will be viewed by many young and impressionable girls espousing such harmful views—without so much as a question about the consequences of these ideas. Instead of giving young girls a proper view of what it means to be a woman, The Baby-Sitters Club presents womanhood as something that is merely a product of your feelings and not a God-given identity.

In a world that is becoming increasingly accepting of transgender ideology, parents should be cautious about the ideas being espoused in the media their children consume. Christians have a role to play in restoring an understanding that humans are a unique combination of both body and soul, which equally make up who we are and are not at war with each other. Nancy Pearcy defines the Christian’s role as being “the first in line to nurture and support kids who don’t ‘fit in’ by affirming the diversity of gifts and temperaments in the body of Christ.” This is exactly the opposite of what is done in The Baby-Sitters Club.

Arielle Leake is a Policy & Government Affairs intern focusing on religious liberty.

The Silence of the Libs in Bostock

by Peter Sprigg

July 14, 2020

I, together with colleagues, have already commented several times on the outrageous opinion authored by Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch in the case of Bostock v. Clayton County. (See an initial response co-authored by Mary Beth Waddell, another here, and separate pieces analyzing the problems with the decision regarding sexual orientation and gender identity.)

Gorsuch, together with Chief Justice John Roberts and the Court’s four most liberal justices (Ginsburg, Breyer, Sotomayor, and Kagan), ruled that the prohibition on discrimination “because of … sex” found in the Civil Rights Act of 1964 extends also to discrimination based on “sexual orientation” and “gender identity.” The decision leapfrogged the democratic process by granting to homosexual and transgender persons special protections not granted by a majority of states nor by Congress, despite proposals to do so going back decades.

The three dissenting justices produced two dissenting opinions. Justice Samuel Alito wrote one with which Justice Clarence Thomas joined, while Justice Brett Kavanaugh wrote separately. They did a thorough job of dismantling Justice Gorsuch’s astonishing claim that he was merely interpreting the plain language of the 1964 statute in granting this sweeping victory to the LGBT movement. Between them, the 82 pages of dissent were two and a half times as long as the 33-page Gorsuch opinion.

But what I found in some ways even more interesting was what the four liberals who concurred with Gorsuch said.

Nothing.

Not one of the Court’s four most liberal justices wrote a single word in concurrence. None saw fit to wax eloquent about what the decision would mean for Americans who identify as LGBT—ironically, only the two dissenters did that. Justice Alito wrote:

The updating desire to which the Court succumbs no doubt arises from humane and generous impulses. Today, many Americans know individuals who are gay, lesbian, or transgender and want them to be treated with the dignity, consideration, and fairness that everyone deserves.

Justice Kavanaugh went even further, implying that if he were a legislator, he would have voted for a bill to do what the Bostock decision did:

[I]t is appropriate to acknowledge the important victory achieved today by gay and lesbian Americans. Millions of gay and lesbian Americans have worked hard for many decades to achieve equal treatment in fact and in law. They have exhibited extraordinary vision, tenacity, and grit—battling often steep odds in the legislative and judicial arenas, not to mention in their daily lives. They have advanced powerful policy arguments and can take pride in today’s result.

Yet the four liberal justices, Ginsburg, Breyer, Sotomayor, and Kagan, wrote not a single word.

In my opinion, there is a profound cynicism in that. The silence of the liberals confirms, more eloquently than anything they could say, the chief criticism of their philosophy. To them, only the result matters, not the reasoning.

The exact same thing happened five years ago in the Supreme Court’s last “landmark” decision on LGBT rights—Obergefell v. Hodges, in which the Court declared unconstitutional state laws defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman. In that 5-4 decision, the Court’s “swing vote,” Anthony Kennedy, wrote a nebulous opinion declaring, “The Constitution promises liberty to all … to define and express their identity.” All four of the dissenting justices wrote separate opinions detailing their objections; but not one of the liberals wrote a concurring opinion.

A few days later, a writer in the liberal New Republic hit upon why, pointing out that Kennedy’s “opinion in Obergefell is, logically speaking, kind of a disaster.” The writer, Brian Beutler, believed that “his ultimate holding was the correct one. But the price of admission for Court’s four liberals was to join a muddled, unconvincing opinion.”

Beutler seemed to shrug and say there was no other choice:

But as long as Kennedy is the Court’s “swing” justice, he will frequently be the liberal justices’ best hope for good outcomes, and they will feel compelled to defer to him, even if he’s unable to marshal arguments that stand the test of time.

Justice Kennedy has now retired—but in Bostock, it was Justice Neil Gorsuch who did the liberals’ dirty work for them.

Justice Gorsuch’s Bostock opinion was of a completely different style from Kennedy’s in Obergefell. Gorsuch claimed to be strictly applying the principles of “textualism,” a judicial philosophy most closely associated with the late Justice Antonin Scalia. According to Gorsuch, his decision “follows ineluctably from the statutory text.”

Of course, Justice Samuel Alito demolished this claim in his dissent, writing:

The Court’s opinion is like a pirate ship. It sails under a textualist flag, but what it actually represents is a theory of statutory interpretation that Justice Scalia excoriated––the theory that courts should “update” old statutes so that they better reflect the current values of society.

In any case, the Supreme Court’s four most liberal justices are not “textualists.” A writer for Slate, Richard L. Hasen, expressed the liberal contempt for “textualism” and its sibling “originalism” in 2018, decrying the “bankruptcy” of “a kind of formalism which resuscitates the moribund idea that judges do not make law in part through value judgments, but instead find law through neutral principles.” (The Constitution, I guess, is “moribund”—either dying or obsolescent.)

However, Hasen noted, “liberal lawyers trying to get progressive results at the Supreme Court have already begun trying to pick off conservative justices through a calculated embrace of the theories.” In fact, he calls this “the model for what liberal lawyers are going to need to do,” noting that “because at least some of the [conservative] justices actually believe they are applying neutral principles … , they can be persuaded to vote against conservative positions . . .”

This approach seems to have worked in the Bostock case, “picking off” both Justice Gorsuch and Chief Justice John Roberts.

The complicity of the four liberal justices in this cynical strategy is demonstrated by their silence.

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