Category : Marriage & Family

A Nation Answers a Sobbing Boy’s Plea: ‘Why Do They Bully?’

When Kimberly Jones picked up her son, Keaton, from school in the Knoxville, Tenn., area last week, he asked her to record a video of him in the car.

Keaton was going home early — not for the first time, Ms. Jones said — because he was afraid to have lunch at school. Classmates, he told his mother, had poured milk on him and stuffed ham in his clothes.

“They make fun of my nose,” he said in the video, which Ms. Jones posted on Facebook on Friday with a plea for parents to talk to their children about bullying. “They call me ugly. They say I have no friends.”

“Why do they bully? What’s the point of it? Why do you find joy in taking innocent people and finding a way to be mean to them?” he asked, sobbing. He added: “People that are different don’t need to be criticized about it. It’s not their fault.”

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Posted in --Social Networking, America/U.S.A., Blogging & the Internet, Children, Marriage & Family, Psychology, Teens / Youth

(Sunday [London] Times) New Bill could allow unmarried men and women to enter civil partnerships

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

([London] Times) Parents leave nitty-gritty of child rearing to a new army of specialists

Nannies have long been vital members of many harassed working parents’ households. Now an army of specialists to take care of every element of child rearing is falling in behind them.

Mothers and fathers are increasingly outsourcing the upbringing of their children. They can employ a professional toilet trainer, someone to teach their child to ride a bicycle and another expert to remove hair lice.

An advertisement was posted this week on the widely used website childcare.co.uk by a 36-year-old mother in Surrey looking for a “professional toilet trainer” for her three-year-old daughter. It provoked mixed reactions.

The mother claimed that she and her husband worked full time in “demanding jobs”. She added: “We have previously tried to train her but unfortunately due to our busy careers we’ve realised we simply do not have the time to do so.

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Posted in Anthropology, Children, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family

(Christian Today) St Helen’s Bishopgate in split with local Anglican churches over sexuality

One of the largest evangelical churches in the country is withdrawing itself from relations with neighbouring Anglican churches over irreconcilable differences on their teaching on sexuality.

St Helen’s Bishopgate, which attracts nearly 2,000 worshippers across its four services each week, declared it was in ‘impaired relationship’ with fellow Church of England parishes in its deanery in central London.

William Taylor, rector of St Helen’s, cited ‘the widely publicised views held by certain members of the deanery chapter’ as reasons for the split.

‘We (the clergy, wardens and PCC of St Helen’s) no longer consider these church leaders who have ceased to ‘believe and uphold the Christian faith Church of England has received it’ to be ‘walking together’ with us in any meaningful partnership’, he told the area dean Rev Oliver Ross.

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby’s speech on the role of education today

We have neglected the value of further education within our overall educational landscape for far too long, over numerous Governments and at least since the 1944 Education Act. That neglect is a legacy of the class system, especially in England. The children of privilege are continuing to inherit privilege and this is true not only in our educational institutions but the whole country. It is also true globally, by the way, as seen in the USA and China. Unless we embark on cultural change, involving partnerships in education between businesses, local and national government and the entirety of our education services, I see little prospect of remedying this wrong. Human flourishing, and an opportunity for fullness of life for all those in education, requires flexible and imaginative training that is based on aptitude.

Our trend towards a more inclusive approach to those with disabilities or special educational needs is witness to the way that comprehensive education has improved, and is a welcome step towards an education that seeks the fullest and most abundant possible life for each human being, regardless of their ability—one which draws the best out of every person and leads them out into life. But the academic selective approach to education, which prioritises separation as a necessary precondition for the nurture of excellence, makes a statement about the purpose of education that is contrary to the notion of the common good. At its best, education must be a process of shaping human beings to reach out for and enjoy abundant life, and to do so in such strong communities of widely varying ability but distinctive approaches to each student that they and all around them flourish. An approach that neglects those of lesser ability or, because of a misguided notion of “levelling out” does not give the fullest opportunity to those of highest ability, or does not enable all to develop a sense of community and mutuality, of love in action and of the fullness and abundance of life, will ultimately fail.

One area that I am most concerned about, which we on these Benches see most clearly through our parish system across the whole of England, and which was highlighted in Dame Louise Casey’s review into opportunity and social integration in December 2016, is how the handing down of poverty and deprivation between generations presents a barrier to achieving social cohesion as well as social justice.

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Posted in --Justin Welby, Anthropology, Archbishop of Canterbury, Children, Education, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Theology

(WSJ) Tunku Varadarajan: India’s Imaginary ‘Love Jihad’–Judges break up the marriage of a Hindu woman who converted to Islam

This is the story of Hadiya, currently the most famous woman in India. Like any person of modest profile rocketed into national headlines, she’d rather be leading an anonymous life. But her parents—and the Supreme Court of India—will not let her.

Hadiya, a medical student, was born 25 years ago into a Hindu family in the southern state of Kerala. In 2015 she converted to Islam, and last year she married a Muslim man. In the process, she changed her Hindu given name from Akhila Ashokan to the adoptive Muslim Hadiya.

Her parents, appalled by the decision, urged the courts to annul her marriage in December 2016. They contended that she had converted to Islam under duress. Worse, they alleged that their daughter’s husband, Shafin Jahan, was involved in terrorism and intended to traffic her to Syria.

In a judgment that was startling in its paternalism and sexism, the Kerala High Court annulled Hadiya’s marriage, holding that she could not possibly have converted and married of her own free will.

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Posted in Hinduism, India, Islam, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Religion & Culture, Supreme Court

(ABC) In Australia Same-sex marriage signed into law by Governor-General, first weddings to happen from January 9

Same-sex couples who have already married overseas will have their relationships recognised in Australia from midnight tonight.

After the drama and excitement of the same-sex marriage bill passing the House of Representatives chamber yesterday, the Governor-General signed off on it this morning.

Attorney-General George Brandis said couples had to give a month’s notice of their intention to marry, so the first same-sex weddings will be able to happen from January 9.

Senator Brandis said he became quite emotional when the bill passed and the public galleries erupted with cheers and singing.

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

(1st Things) Ramona Tausz–C S Lewis’ Love Story

Although Shadowlands glosses over some of the problematic implications of Lewis’s marriage, it nonetheless presents marriage as something holy, sacred, and desirable—something that can’t be attained through the mere sanction of the state. “Marriage isn’t just a legal contract,” Lewis instructs Joy. A civil marriage, the play tells us, is not enough; to be married “properly,” a couple must be wed “before God.” For this treatment of holy matrimony, Shadowlands is to be commended—as it is for its celebration of old-fashioned romance. Joy and Lewis’s attraction for each other is not based on sex alone, but on genuine friendship, good conversation, and intellectual compatibility. Their relationship is not the shallow fling of young lovers (Lewis and Joy are middle-aged when they meet, Lewis in his fifties and Joy nearing forty), but something deeper. Shadowlands offers a lovely picture of romance as it ought to be: love and trust between friends that develops into a genuine longing for union.

Today, when hookup culture has nearly destroyed romantic relationships, and the gravity of divorce is so often dismissed, Shadowlands at least requires us to ask questions about the goodness of marriage and the consequences of sundering it. If you are in Manhattan anytime between now and January 7, it is well worth journeying to Theater Row to ponder them yourself.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Church History, England / UK, Marriage & Family, Men, Religion & Culture, Theatre/Drama/Plays, Women

(PD) Christopher Green+David Upham–The 14th Amendment and Masterpiece Cakeshop: Equal Citizenship, our Inclusive Republic, and Anglo-American Common Law

Like several other big First Amendment cases the Supreme Court will hear this year, Masterpiece Cakeshop is not really a First Amendment case. By its terms, the First Amendment restrains only “Congress” from making laws abridging “the freedom of speech” or prohibiting “the free exercise” of religion, but the Masterpiece case involves a state law. It is the Fourteenth Amendment, adopted after the Civil War, that restricts the states’ powers over religion or speech. Yet, as in last year’s Trinity Lutheran case, the Fourteenth Amendment has barely been mentioned in the briefing so far.

Our amicus brief to the Court in Masterpiece Cakeshop is so far the only attempt to consider at length the relevance of the original meaning of the Fourteenth Amendment for the case. Our scholarly work has documented in detail—sometimes quite tedious detail!—that the original meaning expressed by “privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States,” which the Fourteenth Amendment guaranteed the freedmen, includes civic equality with all similarly situated fellow citizens of the United States. Although it is fuzzy at the margins, the authors of the amendment made its central applications very clear, especially in the Civil Rights Acts of 1866, 1871, and 1875 and in the discussions leading to them. In particular, they made clear that the Fourteenth Amendment forbids not only racial discrimination, but also creedal discrimination—giving fewer rights to some citizens because of their religious or political beliefs. In many ways, to be sure, hostility to creedal discrimination resonates with current First Amendment speech and religion doctrine. When states are involved, however, originalist interpretation can and should stand on its own Fourteenth Amendment foundation of equal citizenship….

In sum, the common law and the original Republican understanding of the Fourteenth Amendment converge on the same intuitive argument in favor of Masterpiece Cakeshop: America is an inclusive republic, where all citizens, regardless of race, color, creed, or way of life, have a right to participate in the marketplace, free from the creedal exclusions imposed by those armed with state coercive power, save perhaps where that citizen uses some monopoly power to exclude other citizens from the market. Colorado has sought to force the baker either to leave his profession or provide wedding-related services incompatible with his creed. He can have no duty to provide such services where the same-sex couple can obtain their wedding cake a short distance down the street. Jack Phillips has no market power over dissenting minorities like that exercised in the Jim Crow South; he himself is the member of a dissenting creedal minority who seeks simply the liberty to participate in the market consistently with his conscience. When substitute goods and services are readily available, there is no moral, common-law, or Fourteenth Amendment justification for creedal and exclusionary limits on occupational freedom.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Religion & Culture, Theology

The 113 Page Transcript of today’s Very Important Masterpiece Cakeshop Case Before the Supreme Court

(From Pages 4-5 to give you a taste–KSH)
JUSTICE GINSBURG: What if — what if it’s — if it’s an item off the shelf? That is, they don’t commission a cake just for them but they walk into the shop, they see a lovely cake, and they say we’d like to purchase it for the celebration of our marriage tonight. The Colorado law would prohibit that. Would you claim that you are entitled to an exception?

MS. WAGGONER: Absolutely not. The compelled speech doctrine is triggered by compelled speech. And in the context of a pre-made cake, that is not compelled speech.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, America/U.S.A., Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Religion & Culture

(WSJ) Luke Goodrich on the Masterpiece Cakeshop Case–Religious freedom is for Christians, too

Most strikingly, a disproportionate share of religious freedom cases are brought by non-Christian minorities. The proportion of religious-freedom cases brought by Hindus was five times their share of the population in the six states under 10th Circuit jurisdiction. The factor was 10 for Native Americans and 17 for Muslims. The most underrepresented group? Christians, who were involved in only one-fourth as many cases as their share of the population.

That means that religious freedom protections remain especially important for non-Christian minorities. But it also raises a question: Why is there so much hand-wringing about a handful of religious-liberty cases brought by Christians?

This is because the political left applies a double standard. If religious liberty is invoked by a favored minority, it is legitimate. But if it is invoked by a Christian with traditional moral views, it is seen as an excuse for hate. Progressives engage in culture-war bullying when religious liberty would stand in the way of their social views. One of the Colorado state commissioners in Masterpiece Cakeshop called the Christian baker’s religious-freedom claim “one of the most despicable pieces of rhetoric that people can use—to use their religion to hurt others.”

But if religious liberty means anything, it means the right to live according to your beliefs when most people think you are wrong.

So when Jack Phillips, the owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop, stands before the Supreme Court Tuesday, he may have some unlikely allies rooting for him: non-Christian religious minorities.

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Posted in --Civil Unions & Partnerships, America/U.S.A., Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Other Faiths, Politics in General, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality

(NYT Op-ed) Robert George+Sherif Girgis: A Baker’s First Amendment Rights

You need the First Amendment precisely when your ideas offend others or flout the majority’s orthodoxies. And then it protects more than your freedom to speak your mind; it guards your freedom not to speak the mind of another.

Thus, in classic “compelled speech” rulings, the Supreme Court has protected the right not to be forced to say, do or create anything expressing a message one rejects. Most famously, in West Virginia v. Barnette (1943), it barred a state from denying Jehovah’s Witnesses the right to attend public schools if they refused to salute the flag. In Wooley v. Maynard (1977), the court prevented New Hampshire from denying people the right to drive if they refused to display on license plates the state’s libertarian-flavored motto “live free or die.”

On Tuesday, the court will consider whether Colorado may deny Jack Phillips, the owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop, the right to sell custom wedding cakes because he cannot in conscience create them for same-sex weddings. Mr. Phillips, who has run his bakery since 1993, sells off-the-shelf items to anyone, no questions asked. But he cannot deploy his artistic skills to create cakes celebrating themes that violate his religious and moral convictions. Thus he does not design cakes for divorce parties, lewd bachelor parties, Halloween parties or same-sex weddings.

Colorado’s order that he create same-sex wedding cakes (or quit making any cakes at all) would force him to create expressive products carrying a message he rejects. That’s unconstitutional.

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Posted in --Civil Unions & Partnerships, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Theology

(CT) When It Comes to Sexuality, ‘We Can’t Simply Review the Verses Anymore’ Pastor Todd Wilson wants to recover the deeper theological and moral meaning of being made male and female

Sexuality is one of the touchiest subjects in the church today. From same-sex marriage to the transgender phenomenon, the issues can threaten to overwhelm our pastoral and theological resources. In the midst of this turbulence, Todd Wilson, pastor of Calvary Memorial Church in Oak Park, Illinois, wants to seek out the solid ground of the Christian tradition. His book Mere Sexuality: Rediscovering the Christian Vision of Sexuality invites evangelicals to see the theological and moral significance of humans being created male and female. Derek Rishmawy, a PhD student at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School and CT columnist, spoke with Wilson about this vision.

In a world that recognizes so many variations of sexuality, what does it mean to champion “mere sexuality”?

The “mere” is a play on C. S. Lewis’s Mere Christianity. It’s not Baptist, Presbyterian, or Anglican Christianity, but the convictions most Christians at most times have believed. I’m trying to capture what most Christians at most times have believed.

In my time as a pastor, I’ve been confronted with the reality that your average, Bible-believing Christian lacks a deep understanding of the theological vision of sexuality given in Scripture. We don’t see male and female sexuality as theologically significant in their own right. And as a result, their moral significance in the context of marriage is not obvious. But there really is an aesthetic beauty and coherence to the logic of male and female in marriage. And while I’ve seen a number of books giving the “biblical response” or the “pastoral response” to our sexual controversies, it struck me that the theological response was missing. We can’t simply review the verses anymore; we need to see the logic of “mere sexuality” behind the verses and have it take hold of our imagination.

Why have evangelicals lost appreciation for the deep logic of “mere sexuality”?

First is the loss of functional biblical authority. It’s not that evangelicals don’t affirm the authority of Scripture. But sociologist Christian Smith talks about the problem of “pervasive interpretive pluralism”—the suspicion that the Bible doesn’t speak decisively on some important issues. That erodes people’s confidence in the Bible’s ability to shape Christian ethics.

Second, the younger generations of evangelicals have essentially had their basic moral intuitions radically refashioned. Ever since the sexual revolution, we’ve had those intuitions about sexual intimacy—and especially same-sex intimacy—rewired. What was instinctively wrong for our parents’ generation seems perfectly normal to someone in their teens or 20s.

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Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Men, Sexuality, Theology, Theology: Scripture, Women

(NR) George Will Is Wrong about The Masterpiece Cakeshop Case

Now, let’s consider the facts of the Masterpiece Cakeshop case. The gay couple eventually selected a rainbow cake to celebrate their nuptials. This decision was every bit as expressive as the White House’s decision to light up its façade. Given the context and the occasion, the meaning was abundantly clear to even the most casual attendee. There is no ambiguity here.

There’s a line, moreover, in Will’s piece that demonstrates surprising ignorance about weddings despite the fact that Will has undoubtedly attended countless ceremonies in his long and illustrious career. Who has ever said that a wedding cake was primarily food? No one wants the cake to taste like trash, but is that the reason that brides, moms, and wedding planners agonize over their cake choice? (Grooms are more likely to be indifferent.) No, they want the cake to be beautiful. They want it to be — dare I say it — a work of art. Rare is the person who attends the wedding reception eager to chow down on a piece of wedding cake. The common and nearly universal experience in weddings where the bride and groom have even the smallest budget to celebrate is the gathering of guests around the cake, to proclaim how “amazing” it looks, to admire the specific aspects that make it special, the “perfect” cake for the perfect couple.

In ordinary circumstances, the artistry of cake designers is so obvious that it’s presumed — the same with photographers, calligraphers, and florists. This obvious artistry is a reason why no one bats an eye when a baker refuses to design, say, a Confederate-flag cake. The message it is sending is staring you in the face. But a message may be implicit instead, present though not obvious, even if the artistry is. For example, does anyone believe that the prohibitions against sex discrimination would compel a fashion designer to create a dress for Melania or Ivanka Trump?

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Posted in --Civil Unions & Partnerships, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Religion & Culture, Sexuality

(PD) The Christian Baker’s Unanswered Legal Argument: Why the Strongest Objections Fail

…[this] week, the Supreme Court will hear one of the most important free speech cases in years, a case of special concern to libertarians and conservatives, small business-owners, artisans, and religious believers. Masterpiece Cakeshop v.Colorado Civil Rights Commission involves Jack Phillips, a baker who claims a First Amendment right not to be compelled to design and create custom wedding cakes for same-sex weddings. Many legal commentators think the case is either a very close call or a certain defeat for Phillips.

In fact, Phillips’s case is very strong. It is based on freedom-of-speech doctrines favored by conservatives and liberals alike. One argument for Phillips in particular survives the best objections leveled in briefs filed by the Colorado Civil Rights Commission, by the ACLU (on behalf of the couple who sought the cake), and by several constitutional law scholars.

That argument rests on the widely acknowledged principle that freedom of speech has to include the freedom not to speak. You aren’t free to express your convictions authentically if the state can make you affirm its own orthodoxies. Thus, for more than seventy years, in cases widely seen as more American than apple pie, the Supreme Court has said government can’t force you to say, do, or make something that carries a message you reject. Applying that principle, it has held that the government can’t force Jehovah’s Witnesses to salute the flag. It can’t force newspapers to carry columns by politicians criticized in their pages. It can’t force drivers to carry license plates with a state-imposed (though utterly banal) slogan (“Live Free or Die”). It can’t force companies to include third-party messages in their billing envelopes. Political majorities are entitled to enact their beliefs into law, but not to force dissenting minorities to affirm those or anyone else’s beliefs in word or deed. That would involve “compelled speech,” which is generally unconstitutional.

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Posted in --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Theology, Theology: Scripture