Category : Marriage & Family

Great NBC Piece for Father’s Day–Father and daughter duo reunited in song

‘Singer-songwriter Jenni Alpert grew up with a supportive adoptive family who encouraged her to pursue music. She reunited with her birth father Don Logsdon nearly 30 years after he gave her up for adoption. After helping him through his recovery, Jenni and Don are bonded by their love for music.’

Watch it all.

Posted in Children, Marriage & Family, Men, Music

Monday Night Inspiration–Stay in the Game

On his own in Costa Rica, Max had figured out how to get Chica into the US, and convinced someone at American Airlines to let her fly on his lap, because they wouldn’t let dogs fly in the hold due to the heat. Thereafter, he and Chica settled in to their little apartment downtown near the White River canal, and each of them began their new life, together. Max had saved Chica. And Chica had saved Max.

One afternoon three months later, when Max was walking Chica, she saw something she hadn’t seen in Costa Rica. It was a squirrel, and before Max could stop her, Chica chased that squirrel straight out onto Indiana Avenue. Right in front of a speeding car.

The car ran over Chica. My son screamed. In that brief moment everything that Max had worked for, everything he had overcome, everything that he was living for, was gone.

Read it all.

Posted in Animals, Children, Health & Medicine, Marriage & Family, Young Adults

(WSJ) Naomi Schaefer Riley–Christians Are Pro-Life After Birth, Too

Legislation restricting abortion in Georgia, Alabama and other states has helped bring a decadeslong conflict back to the center of American politics. Some worn-out arguments have come along with it. One is that the pro-life movement cares too much about limiting abortion instead of improving the lives of babies born into difficult situations.

This critique is increasingly out of date. Many evangelical Christians believe that caring for children without loving parents is an integral part of the pro-life movement, and over the past 15 years an impressive network of organizations has grown to do just that.

This was clear at last month’s Christian Alliance for Orphans, or CAFO, summit at the Southeastern Christian Church in Kentucky. Hundreds of faith-based organizations attended—their missions ranging from the recruitment and training of foster parents to providing assistance for kids aging out of foster care. (I spoke at the conference and was reimbursed for some of my travel expenses.)

The summit had an entrepreneurial feeling, as different groups’ leaders networked and searched for ways to improve their models. Some organizations—such as Focus on the Family and Bethany Christian Services—have been around for decades. Others sprouted up in recent years: Replanted Ministries offers postplacement support for adoptive and foster families. Patty’s Hope provides counseling, training and housing for biological mothers of kids in foster care. Reece’s Rainbow advocates for children with special needs and awards grants to families who adopt them.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Charities/Non-Profit Organizations, Children, Ethics / Moral Theology, Life Ethics, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Theology

St Silas Church Glasgow takes action as a result of the Scottish Episcopal Church’s departure from Chrsitian theology and standards

The Church has made the following statement:

Recent decisions of the Scottish Episcopal Church have made clear to us that the denomination does not regard the Bible as the authoritative word of God. With deep sadness, we have therefore decided that for reasons of integrity we can no longer continue as part of the Scottish Episcopal Church. We want to leave with goodwill towards those with whom we are parting company, and sincerely pray for God’s blessing for the SEC in the future, and its renewal around God’s word.

Mr [Martin] Ayers, said:

“There are many presenting issues that have caused difficulty within the Scottish Episcopal Church in recent years, but for us this is simply about the central place of Jesus and his words in the life of our church. We feel that the Scottish Episcopal Church has moved away from the message of the Bible, and that we cannot follow them.”

Read it all.

Posted in Christology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Scottish Episcopal Church, Soteriology, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(NYT) Her Evangelical Megachurch Was Her World. Then Her Daughter Said She Was Molested by a Minister

Read it all (not suitable content for all blog readers).

Posted in Children, Marriage & Family, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Sexuality, Violence

Monday Mental Health Break–(CBS) The “Wow!” concert

“It was an unusual outburst for a classical music concert: an audience member shouted out “Wow!” at the very end of Mozart’s “Masonic Funeral Music,” performed by the Handel and Haydn Society in Boston. The group’s president and CEO, David Snead, was determined to find out who had broken audience protocol in such a forthright way. The answer to his query proved very surprising, as Steve Hartman discovered.”

A fantastic story-do not miss it.

Posted in Children, Marriage & Family, Music

(CJ) Kay Hymowitz–Alone: The decline of the family has unleashed an epidemic of loneliness

Americans are suffering from a bad case of loneliness. The number of people in the United States living alone has gone through the studio-apartment roof. A study released by the insurance company Cigna last spring made headlines with its announcement: “Only around half of Americans say they have meaningful, daily face-to-face social interactions.” Loneliness, public-health experts tell us, is killing as many people as obesity and smoking. It’s not much comfort that Americans are not, well, alone in this. Germans are lonely, the bon vivant Frenchare lonely, and even the Scandinavians—the happiest people in the world, according to the UN’s World Happiness Report—are lonely, too. British prime minister Theresa May recently appointed a “Minister of Loneliness.”

The hard evidence for a loneliness epidemic admittedly has some issues. How is loneliness different from depression? How much do living alone and loneliness overlap? Do social scientists know how to compare today’s misery with that in, say, the mid-twentieth century, a period that produced prominent books like The Lonely Crowd? Certainly, some voguish explanations for the crisis should raise skepticism: among the recent suspects are favorite villains like social media, technology, discrimination, genetic bad luck, and neoliberalism.

Still, the loneliness thesis taps into a widespread intuition of something true and real and grave. Foundering social trust, collapsing heartland communities, an opioid epidemic, and rising numbers of “deaths of despair” suggest a profound, collective discontent. It’s worth mapping out one major cause that is simultaneously so obvious and so uncomfortable that loneliness observers tend to mention it only in passing. I’m talking, of course, about family breakdown. At this point, the consequences of family volatility are an evergreen topic when it comes to children; this remains the subject of countless papers and conferences. Now, we should take account of how deeply the changes in family life of the past 50-odd years are intertwined with the flagging well-being of so many adults and communities.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, America/U.S.A., Health & Medicine, Marriage & Family, Psychology

(TGC) How Reasserting Anglicans in Canada Found New Life After Their Eviction

In 2002, when his regional synod voted to let its bishop bless same-sex unions, [David] Short stood up and walked out of the room (as did Packer). So did leaders from half a dozen other churches.

The pastors knew they had to form their own organization and to find episcopal supervision. But that didn’t seem hard. Most of the global Anglican church still held to the gospel. The Canadians just had to appeal for alternative episcopal oversight, something already permissible in Canada, and call it a day.

“I thought it would take 10 weeks,” Short said.

It took 10 years. Ten years of accusations and meetings and lawsuits. Ten years of stress and fear and anger. Nearly all the churches would lose their buildings; all did lose congregants and money. Pastors lost sleep. Some nearly lost their sanity.

“We asked all the wisest people I knew—all the cleverest theologians,” Short said. “No one had any idea what to do.” So they just did the next thing. And the next.

This June, the Anglican Church in North America—made up of…conservative Anglicans primarily in the United States and Canada, including Short—will celebrate its 10th anniversary. The denomination has 135,000 members in more than 1,000 churches. It’s in “full communion” with the Global Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans (GAFCON).

“It was all worth it,” said Ottawa rector—the Anglican term for senior pastor—George Sinclair, whose church left with Short’s. But he would have said that no matter what.

“Even if the church had declined, that wouldn’t be a sign that we had made a mistake,” he said. “Because the Bible is clear on this issue. You need to take a stand on it—without any expectation about how God will bear fruit from your faithfulness.”

Read it all.

Posted in Anglican Church of Canada, Canada, Christology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Religion & Culture, Theology, Theology: Scripture

David Ould–Archbp Justin Welby’s Compromised Leadership on Marriage at the Nairobi Press Conference

Highlights include:

1:27 Asked a question about the fallout surrounding the Lambeth Conference, Welby asserts “There has always been … controversy around the Lambeth Conference. It’s why we meet. Because when we meet together as opposed to when we not meet, not communicate, we’re able to listen to each other. And so we’ll see what happens at the Lambeth Conference when we get there”

2:19 “We just have to find a way of [preaching the gospel around the world] that respects each other’s difference and to love and show concern for each other.

3:11 On the question of human sexuality (driven by the fact that the Kenyan courts had just reiterated the definition of marriage as heterosexual): “The Bible is clear, and I’ve said on numerous occasions in public, that my own view of Christian marriage is the traditional view … that has always been the view of Christian marriage but I continue to work with – and in our changing culture in England – to listen very carefully to and to seek to be full of love for those who disagree with me. “

5:19 As Sapit responds to the same question we see Welby nodding in agreement, particularly as Sapit says “… our constitution state [sic.] very clearly that marriage is between a male and a female and that is the teaching of the church. That is what the Archbishop of Canterbury is referring to as the traditional view of Christian marriage; it is between a male and a female for life.”

Read it all and listen to all of the video content.

Posted in --Justin Welby, Anthropology, Archbishop of Canterbury, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology, Theology: Scripture

(Independent) Humanist weddings rise by 266 per cent across England and Wales

They are weddings that are, officially speaking, not even legally recognised.

But such a small detail, it seems, is not stopping increasing numbers of couples from opting for humanist marriage ceremonies across England and Wales.

Such weddings have risen by more than 250 per cent in the last 15 years, according to new figures from the Office for National Statistics.

The massive rise makes it the fastest growing type of wedding in the country – and comes as the number of faith-based ceremonies fell in the same period.

While humanist weddings went up 266 per cent between 2004 and 2016, Church of England weddings fell by 28 per cent, Catholic by 34 per cent and Baptist by 42 per cent.

Read it all.

Posted in England / UK, Marriage & Family, Religion & Culture, Secularism

(NYT Op-ed) Ross Douthat–Clarence Thomas’s Dangerous Idea

In any other area, the left would look at a history like this and ask whether those formal convictions are the only thing that matters, or whether the eugenic past still exerts a structural influence on the present. And in any other area of policy Thomas’s point about how legal abortion appears, in the aggregate, to act in racist and eugenic ways would be taken as an indicator that something more than just emancipation is at work.

Yes, in their theoretical self-conception, pro-choice institutions are neutral custodians of the right to choose. In theory the genetic-screening industry exists only to provide information. In theory the high abortion rate in black America is just the result of countless individual decisions.

But in practice, liberal technocracy still has a “solve poverty by cutting birthrates” bias inherited from a population-panic age, and abortion-rights rhetoric still has a way of sliding into Malthusian fears about too many poor kids in foster care. In practice the medical system strongly encourages abortion in response to disability, with predictable results. In practice Planned Parenthood clinics are in the abortion, not the adoption business — and the disparate impact of abortion on black birthrates is shaped by that reality and others, not just by free choice.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Children, Death / Burial / Funerals, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, History, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Marriage & Family, Theology

Martin Davie–A response to Meg Warner ‘Does the Bible really say … that sex outside marriage is wrong?

What we have seen is that Dr Warner’s argument is misleading in several respects.

  • It is not the case that Deuteronomy 22:13-29 is the foundation for the biblical rejection of sex outside marriage:
  • It is not the case that what is said in depends on the idea that a woman ids the property of her father or her husband;
  • It is not the case that these verses simply echo the ideas of the surrounding culture;
  • It is not the case that Exodus 22:16-17 and Deuteronomy 22:28-29 are about a woman being married off to someone who has sexually assaulted her.

In addition Dr Warner has failed to acknowledge the way in which the actual foundation for biblical thinking about sexual ethics is the creation narrative in Geneses 1 and 2 and what St Paul says in Ephesians 5:32 about marriage being a reflection of Christ’s relationship with his Church.

For all these reasons her article does not make out a persuasive case for the Church to reconsider its traditional view that faithful Christian discipleship requires sexual abstinence outside marriage and sexual fidelity within it.

This does not mean that Christians today need to adopt the specific laws laid down in Deuteronomy 22. As Article VI says, is it not the case that the ‘civil precepts’ contained in the Old Testament ‘ought of necessity to be received in any commonwealth.’ What it does means, as Oliver O’Donovan writes, is that as Christians we need to learn to see within this law (as within the Old Testament law as a whole) ‘a revelation of created order and the good to which all men are called, a ‘moral law’ by which every human being is claimed and which belongs fundamentally to men’s welfare.’

Read it all.

(img: Gilead Books)

Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Sexuality, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology, Theology: Scripture

A Highly Recommended New Blog–Malia Dunn’s ‘Party of One, or Life after Death’

I am not going to spoil it for you by saying anything about it except go and check it out for yourself.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Blogging & the Internet, Children, Death / Burial / Funerals, Marriage & Family, Theology

A New Benjamin Kwashi Biography released for your reading list consideration

Herewith the blurb form the publishers website:

In the warzone that Nigeria has become, Archbishop Ben Kwashi has survived three assassination attempts. A brutal assault on his wife, Gloria, drove him to his knees – to forgive and find the strength to press on. Islamist militants have Nigeria in their sights. These are the terrorists who kidnapped hundreds of Christian schoolgirls – who have vowed to turn Africa’s most populous nation into a hard-line Islamic state. Their plan is to drive the Christian minority from the north by kidnapping, bombing and attacking churches. Plateau State is on the frontline. But holding that line against Boko Haram, and standing firm for the Gospel, is Ben Kwashi, the Anglican Archbishop of Jos. In Jos, churches have been turned into fortresses and Archbishop Ben now conducts more funerals than weddings and baptisms put together. Yet his faith grows ever more vibrant. He has adopted scores of orphans who live in his home, including many who are HIV positive. And the challenge of his message – to live for the Gospel even in the face of terror – has never been so timely.

Posted in Children, Church of Nigeria, Marriage & Family, Ministry of the Ordained, Nigeria, Religion & Culture, Terrorism, Violence

(DM) British couples shun church ceremonies in favour of Instagram-friendly ‘farmyard weddings’ – with the number of barn nuptials doubling in 5 years

There are dozens of decisions to be made when planning a wedding including the cake, flowers, dress and all-important venue.

However it seems that British couples are opting to step away from the traditional church location and are instead embracing ‘farmyard weddings’ for their nuptials.

Couples are also shunning rooftops and glitzy urban hotels in favour of Instagram-friendly venues – complete with bridal wellies and glamping guests.

New research by John Lewis revealed the number of ceremonies held in barns or on farms has doubled in five years, accounting for one in eight weddings, compared to one in 15 in 2014.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Marriage & Family, Religion & Culture

A Riveting and Heartbreaking NPR Piece on Police Suicide Featuring the widows of four officers

SIMON: We met with a group of four women from different parts of America who share a solemn sorrow. Each was married to a police officer who took his life.

Kristen Clifford’s husband was Officer Steven Clifford of the Nassau County, N.Y., police. They had just gotten a puppy. They looked forward to having children. One day in May 2017, he wasn’t responding to her text messages, so she drove home.

KRISTEN CLIFFORD: And I went inside, and I saw a bunch of notes, his police identification, his driver’s license, everything laid out very neatly, methodically. And I ran down the hallway to our bedroom, and the door was closed. And there was a note on it that said, I did it. Do not enter. Call 911.

SIMON: Melissa Swailes was married to Officer David Swailes of the Los Angeles Police Department. They had four sons. David Swailes had symptoms of post-traumatic stress from his time in the U.S. Navy. On their youngest son’s second birthday, Melissa Swailes came home and found her husband behind their bathroom door.

MELISSA SWAILES: I remember just screaming over and over, I can’t, I can’t, I can’t.

SIMON: Erin Gibson was married to Sergeant Clinton Gibson of the Liberty Lake, Wash., police. They were high school sweethearts. They had four children.

ERIN GIBSON: It didn’t even register in my mind that Clint was dead. Nothing made sense after that, so…

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Children, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Police/Fire, Psychology, Suicide, Theology, Violence

(NYT Op-ed) David Brooks–The Rise of the Haphazard Self: How working-class men detach from work, family and church

Their private lives are as loosely attached as their economic lives. Many of the men expressed the desire to be good fathers to their children — to be more emotionally expressive around their kids than their own fathers had been with them. But they expressed no similar commitment to the women who had given birth to those children. Some found out they were fathers only years after their children were born.

“Nearly all the men we spoke to viewed the father-child tie as central while the partner relationship was more peripheral,” Edin and her colleagues write. Naturally, if the men are unwilling to commit to being in a full family unit, the role they actually end up playing in their children’s lives is much more minimal than the role they really want.

The men are also loosely attached to churches. Most say they are spiritual or religious. But their conception of faith is so individualized that there is nobody else they could practice it with. They pray but tend to have contempt for organized religion and do not want to tie themselves down to any specific community.

“I treat church just like I treat my girlfriends,” one man said. “I’ll stick around for a while and then I’ll go on to the next one.”

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Marriage & Family, Men, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Theology

David Ould–Why the Folau Case is Important for Everyone

Through all these ill-defined arguments and slogans we began to see something else emerge – the shouting down of those who disagreed. For many who were campaigning it was outrageous that anybody could even consider voting “no”. It wasn’t seen as a matter of conscience but as a moral failing to think that heterosexual and homosexual relationships were somehow different, even if those who voted “no” didn’t want to make statements about morality themselves, they just didn’t think that these two types of relationship were exactly the same. But the “yes” campaign was always a campaign about morality; the rhetoric of “second class citizens” and the reliable “love is love” were moral claims and the change in the Marriage act was really about having the State itself make a moral claim. It was, ultimately, about achieving state-enforced moral equivalence.

And it was achieved, by changing the law governing the most fundamental social building block we have. Once the law was changed then it was only going to be a matter of time before the progressive activists took this to be a mandate to look for the same enforcement of sexual morality in other areas of our common life.

And so we arrive at today’s decision. What is remarkable about the position that Folau finds himself in is that it was entirely because others wanted to make the morality of sex an issue. Last year when Folau first upset people it was because he was asked a direct question about homosexuals. He didn’t raise the issue but it was forced upon.

This year’s incident is just the same. Consider the dynamic of what actually happened. Folau posted a “warning” that a variety of different “sinful” behaviours would land someone in hell. Yes he referred to homosexuals but he also listed out a whole heap of other behaviours and positions as well. But Rugby Australia didn’t pick him up on any of those. He didn’t discriminate against one particular group (you might even say that he was broadly inclusive in the scope of those included in the “warning”). Instead it was Rugby Australia who made sexual morality the issue. Of all the possible choices presented to them by Folau’s post they picked that one. Much of the media have fallen into line too. I can’t count the number of times this past week that I’ve heard or read about Folau’s “homophobic tweet” but no mention of his “kleptophobia” or the like.

A prominent employer decided to make moral disapproval of homosexuality something punishable. Just as we had warned would happen back during the marriage debate.

Posted in --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anthropology, Australia / NZ, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Sports, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(AFP) Taiwan legalises same-sex marriage in first for Asia

Taiwan’s parliament legalised same-sex marriage on Friday in a landmark first for Asia as the government survived a last-minute attempt by conservatives to pass watered-down legislation.

Lawmakers comfortably passed a bill allowing same-sex couples to form “exclusive permanent unions” and another clause that would let them apply for a “marriage registration” with government agencies.

The vote — which took place on the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia — is a major victory for the island’s LGBT community and it places the island at the vanguard of Asia’s burgeoning gay rights movement.

Thousands of gay rights supporters gathered outside parliament despite heavy downpours, waving rainbow flags, flashing victory signs and breaking into cheers as the news filtered out.

Read it all.

Posted in --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Politics in General, Sexuality, Taiwan

Must not Miss–How one girl struggling mightily with a difficult illness was cheered up by her Mother with a Surprise

Posted in Children, Health & Medicine, Marriage & Family, Sports

Martin Davie: What should Anglicans make of the new Methodist report on marriage and relationships?

…Secondly, however, they should also note that there are a number of central parts of the teaching of the Bible and the orthodox Christian tradition concerning sexuality and marriage that the report rejects or underplays:

  • God has created his human creatures as male and female and given them a command to ‘be fruitful and multiply’ (Genesis 1:26-28, Matthew 19:4).
  • God has ordained marriage as a permanent and exclusive relationship between one man and one woman as the sole legitimate context for sexual intercourse and as the appointed means for the procreation of children (Genesis 2:24, Genesis 4:1).
  • It is this form of marriage that bears witness to the love between God and his people in this world and to the eternal relationship between God and his people in the world to come (Hosea, Ephesians 5:21-32, Revelation 19:7).
  • All forms of sexual activity outside of marriage, including same-sex relationships, are types of sexual activity that are contrary to God’s will for his people and exclude people from his kingdom (Leviticus 18:1-30, 1 Corinthians 6:9-10).
  • A sexual ethic involving sexual abstinence outside marriage and sexual faithfulness within it is an integral part of Christian discipleship (Matthew 5:27-30, Ephesians 5:3-14, 1 Thessalonians 4:1-8).
  • Furthermore, because marriage is something created by God and not be human beings it is not something that human beings can change. What marriage is, is what God has ordained it to be. Consequently, the act of the British parliament in establishing same-sex marriage in 2013 has no validity from a Christian perspective.
  • God is a God of justice and love, but we reflect his justice and embody his love by living according to his will ourselves and encouraging others to the same. To love God is to obey his just commands (John 14:15, 15:9-10). [4]

Because these things are so, the claim in the Methodist report that God is calling the Methodist Church to affirm sexual relationships outside marriage and marriage between two people of the same sex must be wrong. It also has no support from the teaching of John Wesley who held an entirely biblical and orthodox view of sexual ethics.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Methodist, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(NPR) U.S. Births Fell To A (NPR) 32-Year Low In 2018; CDC Says Birthrate Is In Record Slump

The U.S. birthrate fell again in 2018, to 3,788,235 births — representing a 2% drop from 2017. It’s the lowest number of births in 32 years, according to a new federal report. The numbers also sank the U.S. fertility rate to a record low.

Not since 1986 has the U.S. seen so few babies born. And it’s an ongoing slump: 2018 was the fourth consecutive year of birth declines, according to the provisional birthrate report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Birthrates fell for nearly all racial and age groups, with only slight gains for women in their late 30s and early 40s, the CDC says.

The news has come as something of a surprise to demographers who say that with the U.S. economy and job market continuing a years-long growth streak, they had expected the birthrate to show signs of stabilizing, or even rising. But instead, the drop could force changes to forecasts about how the country will look — with an older population and fewer young workers to sustain key social systems.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Children, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Sociology, Theology

(Telegraph) Methodist Church should allow same-sex marriages, report states

Methodists have recommended that gay couples be allowed to marry in their churches for the first time in a groundbreaking report.

In a document published on Tuesday ahead of the Methodist Church’s Conference this summer, a task force called for a series of recommendations in a bid to modernise the Methodist Church.

The report was drawn up amid changes in society regarding same-sex relationships, cohabition and the delicining marriage rate, the legalisation of civil partnerships and same-sex marriage.

It also comes following the Government’s revelation last year that civil partnerships would be rolled out to heterosexual couples and the proposal has been welcomed by the LGBT community.

The recommendation to change the rules to allow same-sex weddings in its chapels was revealed in the publication entitled ‘God in Love Unites Us’, and was drawn up by the Methodist Church’s Marriage and Relationships Task Group.

Read it all.

Posted in --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anthropology, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Methodist, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Theology

(Commentary) Sohrab Ahmari–The Disappearance of Desire: The transgender movement’s missing element

The case for accepting and advancing the cause of transgenderism is, at root, a radical philosophical argument—one that goes to the heart of what it means to be human. Accepting the trans movement’s argument requires us to lend credence to an extreme form of mind-matter dualism, and involves severing the links between bodily sex, gender identity, and erotic desire.

But first: What do the activists claim? If there is one unshakeable tenet, it is that gender identity and expression—a person’s self-concept as a gendered being and how that person outwardly manifests it—are different from the sex organs that have distinguished male from female since the emergence of the species. They argue that while a physician might “assign” a sex to a newborn, that label may well be at odds with the baby’s true gender. As the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) puts it in a guide for journalists, a transgender person is one “whose sex assigned at birth is different from who they know they are on the inside.” The term applies to those who are assigned the male sex at birth but whose innate sense tells them they are women, and vice versa. It also includes those “who do not fit in the distinct and opposite binary of male and female.”

The possession of sex organs has thus been deemed factually irrelevant. Instead, gender identity is based in the innate sense of the person himself or herself. A transgender woman is a woman, and a transgender man is a man—period, the activists say. Here is the HRC: “Contrasting transgender people with ‘real’ or ‘biological’ men and women is a false comparison. They are real men and women, and doing so contributes to the inaccurate perception that transgender people are being deceptive when, in fact, they are being authentic and courageous.”1 Thus, according to the activists, transitioning—whether by medical or social means or both—isn’t a process of becoming but of living out who transgender people really are.

This view of subjective gender identity as the unimpeachable guide to whether someone is male or female (or both or neither) has gained currency among some clinicians. In his book When Harry Became Sally, the Heritage Foundation scholar Ryan T. Anderson quotes the Duke University pediatrician Deanna Adkins to the effect that “it is counter to medical science to use chromosomes, hormones, internal reproductive organs, external genitalia, or secondary sex characteristics to override gender identity for the purposes of classifying someone as male or female.” I will return to these assertions shortly. For now, it suffices to note that the activists aren’t entirely wrong when they boast that their claims enjoy broad support among psychiatrists and psychologists.

At the same time, the activists hold—and this is their second major tenet—that gender itself is largely a social construct, since it is society that labels various traits or characteristics “masculine” or “feminine.”

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Children, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Philosophy, Psychology, Sexuality

(1st Things) Douglas Farrow–The New Family Violence

Family violence can take many forms,” says Madam Justice Marzari of the Supreme Court of British Columbia, including “unreasonable restrictions or preventions of a family member’s personal autonomy.” To be more specific, “family violence” can now take the form of refusing to accept a family member’s chosen gender identity. Such is the violence inflicted on a fourteen-year-old girl (referred to as AB) who is determined to be a boy, by her father (dubbed CD), who insists she is no such thing.

The court will not stand idly by, insists Justice Marzari, knowing that AB is “harmed by the fact that it is his own father, whom he loves, who appears to be publicly rejecting his identity, perpetuating stories that reject his identity, and exposing him to degrading and violent commentary in social media” (A.B. v. C.D. and E.F., 2019 BCSC 604, par. 72). Under Justice Bowden, it has “already determined that it is a form of family violence to AB for any of his family members to address him by his birth name, refer to him as a girl or with female pronouns (whether to him directly or to third parties), or to attempt to persuade him to abandon treatment for gender dysphoria” (par. 21). And now it means to enforce its embargo on such behavior by permitting the arrest without warrant of CD, should he give the least appearance of persisting in this violence.

We will return later to the matter of “degrading and violent” commentary. For the moment, please note that “treatment for gender dysphoria” means—at a minimum—the application of opposite-sex hormones, with their permanent effects on AB’s body. It certainly does not mean trying to get at the root causes in her soul—alienation from a parent, perhaps?—through any kind of cognitive therapy. That sort of thing qualifies these days as degrading and violent “conversion therapy,” a label applied in Orwellian fashion to any procedure that might call into question a sexual orientation or gender identity claim; any procedure, that is, which risks reversing a SOGI conversion. In a number of jurisdictions, approaches with that sort of risk have become illegal.

But back to A.B. v. C.D. Not being a family member, I will say in response to the court what AB’s father has been saying, but is now forbidden to say on pain of arrest: His daughter is a daughter not a son, a she not a he, and the court has no power by legal writ to change what is written in her chromosomes or to declare her chromosomes irrelevant. And I will add this: The court’s attempt to declare her chromosomes irrelevant is itself a form of violence against the family—this family and every family.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Canada, Children, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Theology

A Guardian Interview with activist the Rev Andrew Foreshew-Cain

“In the past decade or so, I have seen and spoken to lots of young people who are trying to reconcile their sexuality and their faith, who end up self-harming, attempting suicide or who suffer with depression and mental illness,” says Foreshew-Cain. “Because if you believe God is condemning you for your essential being and that you have got to be something other than you are, where does that leave you?” He pauses. “Lizzie wasn’t the only one, and she won’t be the last.”

Statements from the most senior figures in the C of E have done little to ease his concerns. Welby, who recently announced that same-sex partners would not be invited to the Lambeth conference in 2020, while heterosexual spouses would, said he was pained by his decision and regretted the conflicts racking the church.

“Honestly, a lot of us in the queer community are very fed up with straight, white, cisgendered men talking about their suffering when they are inflicting it on other people,” says Foreshew-Cain. “It’s a bit like an abusive partner hitting you and saying: ‘This hurts me more than it hurts you.’”

The picture he paints is one of disorder, barely held together by a carefully cultivated ambiguity among the church’s top brass: bishops who quietly voice support for same-sex marriage behind closed doors vote against any liberalisation towards gay and lesbian clergy in the synod, he claims. Parishioners, tired of the endless debates, are abandoning a church at odds with itself. And young Anglicans, hoping to find acceptance and often succeeding in local parishes, are finding institutional debates about their place the source of intense pain.

Foreshew-Cain is sceptical that much will change – at least not until the conclusion of the next Lambeth conference in 2020. But a reckoning will come, and it seems the point of compromise is long past. “These campaigns are not going to go away. Gay people in the church are not going to go away. And the moral question mark over the integrity of the church is not going to go away. It’s only going to become more intense.”

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Posted in --Civil Unions & Partnerships, --Justin Welby, Anthropology, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology

(PD) Lyman Stone–What Makes People Have Babies? The Link Between Cultural Values and Fertility Rates

Over the course of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, something remarkable happened: people started having fewer children. Way fewer. In country after country, fertility rates fell from four to eight children per woman to less than three, and in many cases less than two.

What caused this decline in fertility? Did changes in child mortality and life expectancy cause parents to desire fewer conceptions? Did increased return to human capital change the optimal child-rearing strategy? Was the decline caused by increasing exposure to the toxic chemical mix of industrialization?

The above explanations, and many others, have been proposed at various times by biologists, economists, and sociologists. But a growing body of economic research is offering a decidedly anthropological explanation for fertility: it’s about culture. People have the children they have not simply due to their individual pursuit of happiness, economic returns, or mere biology, but because of how cultural and values systems shape their behaviors.

It’s easy to spot culture-fertility linkages “in the wild.” For example, in ethnically Chinese populations around the world, birth rates spike in lucky Zodiac years, like the Dragon year. Births fall sharply around major holidays in virtually all countries. In America, they also fall sharply on unlucky days like April 1 or Friday the 13th. I’ve catalogued these and many more cultural-fertility interactions elsewhere.

But can cultural factors explain big changes in fertility? Sure, maybe a change in cultural values can nudge when a couple has a baby by a little bit here or there, or maybe we can change the pace of change in birth rates a bit. But could an arbitrary shock to social values really trigger an epochal shift in demographics like that observed during the so-called “demographic transition?” New research by Brian Beach and W. Walker Hanlon says yes.

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Posted in Anthropology, Children, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Globalization, Marriage & Family, Politics in General, Theology

(NYT Op-ed) Ross Douthat–The One-Income Trap: How Elizabeth Warren inspired a conservative policy debate

…there are many families that don’t want full-time day care just as there are many families that don’t want two full-time jobs, and their desire can be entirely reasonable. Great preschools are no easier to build than great high schools, and if you think your kids might be better off in the care of a parent or with some extended family member, then a system designed around a dual-income plus day care norm will likewise feel like a burden, or a trap.

The better way here, as I have argued with tedious frequency, would be for conservatives skeptical of the two-earner norm to make common cause with feminists skeptical of the corporate bias against female biology and for both to unite around supports for family life that are neutral between different modes of breadwinning. Don’t subsidize day care, don’t subsidize stay-at-home moms; just subsidize family life, and let the sexes figure out how best to balance work and life, their ambitions and their desire for kids.

The practical obstacles to this kind of feminist-conservative centrism may seem substantial, but the practical case for odd alliances is just as strong. As Lyman Stone recently argued in First Things, the evidence from Europe suggests family policies are most effective when they’re understood as part of a flexible pro-family consensus, rather than as attempts to impose a single normative model on women and families. In other words, a pro-family conservatism that simply rejects the two-earner household as a failed experiment won’t be able to establish a successful policy consensus. But neither will a feminism that writes off the aspects of traditionalism that reflect what many women want.

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Posted in Anthropology, Children, Ethics / Moral Theology, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Marriage & Family, Politics in General, Theology

Andrew Goddard–Ethics and policy for invitations to the partial Lambeth Conference of 2020

As a result of these actions not apparently having consequences in relation to Lambeth invitations, although over 500 bishops and nearly 400 spouses have accepted invitations, it seems likely that at least 200 bishops will decline to attend on principle while some attending may make clear their impaired or broken communion.

In relation to spouses, in a break with past practice they are being invited not to an overlapping Spouses’ Conference but to a single joint conference. It appears, however, that they will be excluded from certain parts of that conference and those spouses who are legally married to a bishop of the same sex are wholly excluded.

In relation to ecumenical observers, many (perhaps even most) Communion bishops invited to the Conference are formally in fuller communion with some of the churches in this category than they are with a number of the other Communion churches and bishops (while other Communion bishops are not in communion and in long-running legal battles with them over church property). It is unclear how their role at the Conference will be different from that of Communion bishops and their spouses.

If that were not confusing enough, when it comes to any decision-making at the Conference (about which there are at present no public details) one assumes that the spouses and ecumenical observers will not participate. However, neither will all Communion bishops unless there is a reversal of the decision of the Primates in 2016 and 2017. And so there is a further, perhaps even more contentious, decision about differences among invitations that needs to be drawn and defended at some point.

The former bishop of Liverpool, James Jones, wrote that the Communion “resembles a spilled bowl of spaghetti” and messiness will inevitably mark Lambeth 2020. There are, however, ways of thinking about, describing, and responding to our current mess (I think, for example, of The way of Anglican communion: Walking together before God drawing on Lambeth 1920) which offer a better path for the Lambeth Conference than that currently on offer in occasional official statements.

What we urgently need is the construction and articulation of a coherent and compelling vision that has theological and ecclesiological integrity, is honest about the painful lived reality of our common life, and is in continuity with the responses developed in recent decades and what the Communion’s General Secretary has recently summed up as “the principle of walking together at a distance as a means of recognising and addressing difference of understanding and practice across the Communion”. Once we have such a vision we can perhaps develop conviction policies on specifics and even find a way towards a “win-win” situation which has a greater possibility of reaching the Archbishop’s goal of “getting as many people as possible there and excluding as few as possible”.

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Posted in - Anglican: Analysis, --Justin Welby, Anthropology, Archbishop of Canterbury, Ethics / Moral Theology, Instruments of Unity, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology, Theology: Scripture

([London] Times) Archbp Justin Welby says ban of bishops spouses in same-sex marriages from the partial Lambeth Conference of 2020 was ‘painful’ but necessary

The American, Canadian and Scottish churches in the Anglican communion have backed same-sex marriage. Most Anglican churches, including from countries such as Uganda, remain firmly opposed.

Every Anglican bishop has been invited and they can all invite their spouses, with the exception of married gay bishops. It has prompted criticism from MPs, the Most Rev Michael Curry, the American bishop who preached at the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, and the University of Kent, the conference host.

Speaking on a tour of the diocese of Peterborough, the archbishop said that he had met university bosses to discuss their concerns. He told The Times: “Well over 90 per cent of the Anglican communion are conservative on issues of sexuality. I’ve invited all the bishops, including those in same-sex marriages. And I had to consider . . . getting as many people as possible there and excluding as few as possible. It’s a lose-lose situation.”

He added: “I had to take what is a really difficult and painful decision to say, in order for the conference to be as representative as possible and get all the bishops there and not have the risk of some provinces not coming because they felt I was pushing the envelope too far, that I couldn’t ask all the spouses.”

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Posted in --Civil Unions & Partnerships, --Justin Welby, Anthropology, Archbishop of Canterbury, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Sexuality, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology, Theology: Scripture