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Sexuality

Are bans on conversion therapy actually bans on religious conversion...in drag?

An ongoing concern for international religious freedom advocates is the existence of laws banning conversion from one religion to another. For example, it is illegal to convert a Muslim to Christianity in Pakistan, to convert a Buddhist to Christianity in Myanmar, and to convert a Hindu to Christianity in some states in India. In Canada, with its Christian roots, we understand that while faith includes outward observance, Christianity is ultimately a matter of the heart, a matter of Whom we love and trust. From that springs the understanding that the civil government cannot compel belief by force or law, and it is fruitless to try. At least, that is how it used to be. As nationalism rises, religious freedom falls Meghan Fischer, writing of this phenomenon in the Penn State Journal of Law & International Affairs, explains the international consensus that there is (or ought to be) a right to change one’s religious beliefs. There is also an internationally recognized right “to try to convert others by means of non-coercive persuasion.”1 But Fischer suggests that there are growing nationalist impulses in Southeast Asia such that “conversions away from the majority religion… are a threat to the country.” Laws banning religious conversion are then selectively enforced only to ban conversion from the majority religion to a minority religion. Heiner Bielefeldt, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief from 2010 to 2016, notes that violations of the right to convert have “become a human rights problem of great concern.” He explains that religious freedom is abused

…in the interest of promoting national identity or protecting societal homogeneity, or under other pretexts such as maintaining political and national security… In addition, the rights of converts or those trying non-coercively to convert others are sometimes questioned in principle.2

Such bans on religious conversion result in stories such as this one,

Three Christians were arrested in the village of Vadi in on December 16th after fellow villagers accused them of practising illegal medicine. They spent 11 days in jail before being released on bail. Pastor Mukam Kiraad, along with two members of his church… were shocked to learn they were charged with medical malpractice after praying for physical healing.

Canada’s version? This story of Christian prayer resulting in criminal charges reminded me of the conversion therapy bans that have been proposed or passed in Canada at all three levels of civil government. And I wondered: Are bans on conversion therapy a species of religious conversion bans? In order to answer this question, we need to investigate and understand: what the majority religion in Canada is what true conversion is and how it is brought about in Christianity; and what conversion therapy bans in Canada are actually proposing to do. When we put these three things together, we can answer our question. 1. Canada’s established religion While Canadians follow many gods (theistic or material like money, sex, or sports), there is one dominant religion. And it isn’t Christianity or Islam. To understand what it is, we can look to the opening chapter of Nancy Pearcey’s excellent book Love Thy Body, where she explains the “radically fragmented, fractured, dualistic view of the human being” that has developed in Western culture. She calls it personhood theory. Personhood theory says the true “you” – the actual person – is not the body you have but what you feel you are, your sense of self. If you feel you are mostly female but have a male body, the important part of you is that inside sense of who you are. The body is secondary, and so it can be mutilated and chemically altered to conform to the “real” you. This type of thinking slips into Christianity too, where some well-meaning Christians have embraced the idea that your soul might be female while your body is male, for example. This is a dualistic understanding of the human person that, instead of viewing our mind and our body as an integrated whole, sees them as two separable pieces. It declares: you are your mind; you are not your body. It’s also a deeply religious view, isn’t it? You can’t prove in a science lab that the “soul” or your “internal sense of self” is actually female when the biological body is genetically and anatomically male. You have to accept it on faith. And yet the idea that the human person – who you really are – is something wholly different from the human body is taken as an article of faith by the legal, political, academic, journalistic, and (increasingly) economic leaders of our Western culture. Take, for example, the argument that the pre-born child is “human” but not “a person.” That’s a religious claim. It takes blind faith to agree (as most pro-choice advocates do) that the pre-born child is a complete and a unique living human being, but not a person deserving rights. A Christian would respond that the pre-born child is a person because they are human – an observable, provable, biological fact – and therefore should be afforded the same protection in law as any other human. Or consider the British Columbia Court of Appeal in the A.B. v. C.D. case: the court assumed and adopted the language at the beginning of the hearing that a biological female was, in fact, a boy, despite this being contested by the father of the child. Philosopher Robert P. George, in a long-form article titled “Gnostic Liberalism,” explains that this separation and elevation of the mind or the soul over the body is actually the outworking of the millennia-old heresy of Gnosticism, back in new clothes. It sees the soul as a “ghost in a machine.” George says that in this new version of the Gnostic religion, “the body serves at the pleasure of the conscious self, to which it is subject.” Your religious view on the nature of the body and the soul has implications for all kinds of social, legal and moral issues, like transgenderism and sex-changes. The Christian view, says Robert George, is that “respect for the person demands respect for the body, which rules out mutilation and other direct attacks on human health… Changing sexes is a metaphysical impossibility because it is a biological impossibility.” Pearcey agrees, writing, “Christianity holds that body and soul together form an integrated unity – that the human being is an embodied soul.” Robert George concludes that this Gnostic view of the human being (he also describes it as “expressive individualism”) is now the dominant orthodoxy among Western cultural elites. It...

...provides the metaphysical foundation of the social practices against which Orthodox Jews and faithful Christians… contend today: abortion, infanticide, euthanasia, sexual liberation, the redefinition of marriage, and gender ideology.

There should be no doubt in our minds: Canada has a dominant religion. That religion has various names, but biblical Christianity is not one of them. Neo-Gnosticism, secular humanism, expressive individualism, or moral therapeutic deism; all describe the dominant religion, a belief system with a destructive view of mankind that stands in sharp contrast to the beautiful truth of the biblical view of man: human beings created as either male or female – body and soul, an integrated whole – in the image of God. Now let’s explore the concept of true conversion and then apply it to this dominant religion. 2. The true conversion of man In a word, conversion is change. Theologian Steven Lawson explains,

In the biblical sense, conversion means a turning—a spiritual turning away from sin in repentance and to Christ in faith. It is a dramatic turning away from one path in order to pursue an entirely new one. …The entire person—mind, affections, and will—is radically, completely, and fully changed in conversion.

The true repentance or conversion of man, explains the Heidelberg Catechism (Q&A 88-90), “is the dying of the old nature and the coming to life of the new.”3 The dying of the old nature “is to grieve with heartfelt sorrow that we have offended God by our sin, and more and more to hate it and flee from it”4 and the coming to life of the new nature “is a heartfelt joy in God through Christ, and a love and delight to live according to the will of God in all good works.”5 So, for those who convert to Christianity from Hinduism or Islam or atheism (and there are plenty of biographies describing these conversions), there is a radical break – emotionally, intellectually, spiritually, volitionally – from the ideas and practices of the previous religious system to love and embrace and follow Jesus Christ as Lord in every aspect of life. This pattern of conversion is also true for those who convert to Christianity from the mainstream religion of Canada: the secular humanist and Gnostic religion. A convert will come to reject the ideas, practices, and affections of the false religion and embrace instead the person and work of Christ Jesus. They will change. Now, total change might not be immediate and will involve struggles of various kinds. Fellow Christians must love and walk alongside a new convert, encouraging them day by day to engage the struggle and embrace their newfound freedom in Christ. And the change will result in changes of lifestyle, of identity, of affections, turning away from the Gnostic religion’s view of humankind and embracing the Christian understanding. What is also important to know is how conversion is brought about. It is not forced; it cannot be. The Canons of Dort (at ch. 3/4, art. 16) puts it beautifully:

this divine grace of regeneration does not act upon men as if they were blocks and stones and does not take away the will and its properties, or violently coerce it, but makes the will spiritually alive, heals it, corrects it, pleasantly and at the same time powerfully bends it (Psalm 51:12; Philippians 2:13).

Conversion is a wonderful work of God, by His Spirit, begun usually through the sharing of the gospel “which God has ordained to be the seed of regeneration and the food of the soul” (Canons of Dort, ch. 3/4, art. 17). The gospel is spread by word and example, not by sword. When the Church fulfils her calling to go and make disciples of all nations, preaching the gospel to all people, the Spirit is at work changing hearts. 3. What conversion therapy bans in Canada do Across the country, in various provinces and municipalities, and in Parliament as well, conversion therapy bans have been proposed (and most have passed), outlawing so-called “conversion therapy.” As ARPA Canada explains in our policy report on conversion therapy, the devil is in the details: how one defines conversion therapy determines how bad such a ban would be. And it also determines whether it might rise to the level of a religious conversion ban. Kristopher Wells, an outspoken activist on conversion therapy, defines conversion therapy this way:

Conversion “therapy” (also known as “reparative therapy,” “reintegrative therapy,” or “sexual orientation and gender identity change efforts”) is any form of treatment, including individual talk therapy, behavioural or aversion therapy, group therapy treatments, spiritual prayer, exorcism, and/or medical or drug-induced treatments, which attempt to actively change someone’s sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression.

Notice what this very influential activist has done. He intentionally and deceptively combines prayer and talk therapy with long-discredited and generally unacceptable practices like aversion therapy (think electric shock therapy). And yet his definition has been used in modified forms in both the City of Calgary’s recently passed bylaw and in Bill C-8, the federal government’s proposed criminal ban on conversion therapy. ARPA Canada’s ongoing concern with both laws is that the definitions of conversion therapy are incredibly broad and misleading. At the Calgary City Council deliberations over their bylaw, multiple lawyers, pastors, and citizens (same-sex attracted and otherwise) expressed grave concern that the bill would prohibit the advertising, teaching, or application of parts of the gospel: the Christian understanding of man, including sexual ethics, sense of self, the effect of sin on human nature, and so on. Yet the bylaw passed with no real opposition within city council. When asked, some defenders of these bans, like federal Justice Minister David Lametti, explain that anyone who has “non-judgemental” or “open-ended” conversations about identity would not be captured by such prohibitions. But who judges what is “non-judgmental” or “open-ended”? Another troubling aspect is that many conversion therapy bans only prohibit “conversion” in one direction: they ban reducing homosexual activity or desire and reducing gender dysphoria. That is the explicit language of Bill C-8. This raises huge practical questions: if a teenager is consuming an inordinate amount of pornography, can they be told to “reduce” this behavior only if involves heterosexual pornography? A plain reading of the proposed law would prohibit an experienced counselor from helping a child struggling with gender dysphoria to be comfortable with their body. And there are enough documented cases of school teachers encouraging children to “explore” or question their sexual identity. Why should that be permitted, but not vice versa? These one-directional prohibitions are steeped in the neo-Gnostic religion. So, are bans on conversion therapy banning religious conversion? Conversion therapy bans do not outright ban religious conversion from neo-Gnosticism to Christianity in the same way that converting someone from Hinduism to Christianity is banned in parts of India. But these conversion therapy bans definitely impede the ability of the Christian community (whether pastors or counselors or even parents or friends) to persistently teach the Christian sexual ethic and to explain how the good news of the gospel applies to all of life. Banning advertising or defining businesses to include churches in the context of conversion therapy bans are examples of the civil government limiting the reach of the gospel to people within the LGBTQ+ community. “How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?” (Romans 10:14). If bylaws and criminal prohibitions make the Christian community think twice about sharing the gospel with someone who currently embraces the Gnostic religion, then conversion therapy bans seem to be a sub-species of religious conversion bans. This said, it is helpful for us, as Christians, to remember the approach we take to conversion. Nancy Pearcey says it well:

As we work through controversial moral issues, it is crucial to bear in mind the main goal. It is not first of all to persuade people to change their behaviour. It is to tear down barriers to becoming Christian. No matter who we are addressing, or what moral issue the person is struggling with, their first need is to hear the gospel and experience the love of God. (Love Thy Body, p. 260)

When we start with that, and pray and trust the Spirit to do his work, we should be confident that God will convert those whom he wills, no matter what the Gnostics plan to ban. Endnotes 1 Meghan G. Fischer’s “Anti-Conversion Laws and the International Response” in the Penn State Journal of Law & International Affairs, Volume 6, Issue 1 2 United Nations, General Assembly, Elimination of all forms of religious intolerance: Interim report of the Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief, A/67/303 (13 August 2012), at para. 15, available from undocs.org/en/A/67/303 3 Rom 6:1-11; 1 Cor 5:7; 2 Cor 5:17; Eph 4:22-24; Col 3:5-10 4 Ps 51:3, 4, 17; Joel 2:12, 13; Rom 8:12, 13; 2 Cor 7:10 5 Ps 51:8, 12; Is 57:15; Rom 5:1; 14:17; Rom 6:10, 11; Gal 2:20

André Schutten is the Director of Law and Policy for ARPA Canada.

Documentary, Movie Reviews, Sexuality, Watch for free

How do you like me now? When a child, parent, spouse, or sibling says they're gay

Documentary 2016 / 88 minutes RATING: 7/10 The powerful, aggressive, LGBTQ lobby has been very successful in its efforts to normalize the homosexual lifestyle in our society. In our Reformed circles we read and hear about these efforts, but for most of us homosexuality is still an issue “out there,” that’s not all that relevant to us or anyone we know. We associate the gay lifestyle with gay bars and the many annual pride parades that take place around the country. So we know, for example, that the city of Toronto hosts one of the largest gay pride parades in the world, and that on a day in early July it is best to avoid the downtown core of Toronto if you don’t want to be stuck in the middle of what’s happening there. That’s easily done, which is why, for most of us, homosexuality is far removed from our daily lives. We’d also like to keep it that way, preferring to avoid the confrontation. This avoidance approach can work for a time…right up until your child, or one of your siblings, or a parent, or a close friend comes to you and says, “I’m gay.” What he’s been going through All of a sudden your world changes. Now homosexuality is right here – in your face, in your life. You can’t avoid this issue any longer. What do you say? How do you react? What do you actually know about this? It’s all very confusing. You love this person deeply, but how do you deal with this? One of the problems that can easily frustrate the conversation is that this is an all-of-a-sudden experience for you. The same is not true for the other person. By the time he1 is ready to tell you “I’m gay,” he has already struggled with many conflicting emotions and questions, and has come to some answers for himself. But you are just at the very beginning of this process. If this is someone from our Reformed churches, then it is likely he has quietly wrestled with same-sex attraction for quite a while already, feeling desperately confused and insecure. He will have tried to ignore or deny the feelings he knows he is not supposed to give in to, and tried to resist attractions he does not want to have. It is such a lonely journey. The fear of rejection is strong. He may think he knows how his family, his friends and the church community are going to respond, because he’s heard the casually disparaging remarks they’ve sometimes made about homosexuals. How to begin When he’s ready to share the outcome of his struggle, he may well follow his declaration with a question: “How do you like me now?” But this is just one of the questions running through your head. There are so many unknowns, and you want to know more. Where can you search for answers? Which books? What articles? And who can you talk to about this? Are there others in our churches who have gone through this before? Or are you the only ones? Your child (or sibling, or parent, or friend) has already gone through his struggles, and he may already be settled in his thinking. He might tell you, “I am finally ready to accept myself as I am.” He has come to conclusions that he is (more or less) okay with: “I am gay. This is who I am. I know what you think and feel, but I expect you to accept this.” That is a rough conversation starter. How should you respond? The worst thing you can say at that moment is something like, “Oh, don’t worry too much, dear. We can fix this. We will find you a good Christian counsellor who can help you to get out of this.” Don’t worry? This approach isn’t comforting, but dismissive – he has been worrying about these confusing emotions for years now! Start the conversation this way and it may end quickly – “You just don’t get it, mom.” A better beginning would be to give him a big hug. Hold him tight, tell him you love him, and that you will always love him. Yes – you will have to make clear that you do not agree with his sinful choices. But there is a time for everything, and right then and there, it is a time for long, tight hugs. Homosexuality is a temptation in the Church too It will never be easy when a person you love dearly tells you, “I am gay.” But I’m convinced that in the Church we are well past the time that we can comfortably ignore this topic, or think that a one-line wholesale condemnation is enough. The LGBTQ community has become mainstream in virtually all aspects of our culture. It’s everywhere today – in arts and entertainment, politics, sports, education, business, commercials, the media2 and even in some churches. This prominent visibility all around us is going to have an impact on us as well, on our families, and our young people. And those who struggle with same-sex attraction will feel the pressure from this permissive culture more and more, and at an ever younger age. So there is an urgent need to talk with one another about homosexuality. How can we help each other? How can we educate ourselves to have those conversations? We could go to Google. Type in some keywords and do a search: it's easy enough. But, without any guidance, this is not the most helpful way, and can easily leave you overwhelmed and confused. It is too much for this review article to analyze relevant Bible passages, like Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13, Romans 1:21-32, 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 and 1 Timothy 1:9-11. Though many do dispute it, it really is beyond dispute that nowhere in the Bible is anything positive to said about same-sex relations.3 But how exactly can we explain to our son or daughter that, while we disapprove of their choices, we continue to love them? And, how do we then put our words into practice? A great resource One good source for answers to these questions can be found with the documentary How Do You Like Me Now? The subtitle introduces the content: “When a child, parent, spouse or sibling says they’re gay.” This film includes a number of interviews with parents, spouses, siblings, and children of someone who has declared themselves gay. The cover of the DVD says that Joe Dallas leads the discussion. But this is not a “discussion” in the sense of a debate, and I think that is a good thing. A debate would distract from the impact of the testimonies of the interviewees. Dallas does act as discussion leader in the background. He appears between the interviews and provides the connecting lines as he summarizes and comments on what is being said in each interview. Some might wonder about the lack of any homosexuals being interviewed – wouldn’t it be good to hear from them about their struggles, and about their experiences with their families and their church communities? Yes, we do need to hear their voices too. It is crucial that we listen to them in our families and our churches, and that we do so carefully and lovingly. Thankfully there is also material out there that can help us to do so.4 But here the focus is on the family and friends who are impacted when someone says, “I am gay.” It is good and helpful for us to hear about the role of their Christian faith as these parents, and others, struggle to come to grips with the homosexuality of a loved one. If you have gone through this yourself, you will be able to relate to the experiences and emotions these parents, siblings, spouses and children are sharing: the initial shock, the confusion and pain, and often the utter helplessness or even the tendency to blame oneself: What did I miss? Did we do something wrong?’ The documentary's purpose is to help friends and family find a way forward. As someone said, “I wish we would have had the opportunity to watch this earlier, before we had our own struggles with one of our children.” Now, when you interview a significant number of people you are going to get a variety of responses. Reactions are, of course, very personal. This means different viewers will find different interviews stronger and more compelling than others. That only makes sense. And it certainly doesn’t take away from the value of watching this. On the contrary! What connects these testimonies is that they come from the hearts of people who have struggled to understand their straying loved one. This leads to some moving moments, which is understandable when you are asked to talk about someone who is so close to you and whom you love so deeply. A father or mother, a brother or sister, a husband or wife, a son or daughter will all have their own, unique relationship with the person who comes out as gay or lesbian. And thus each one will seek the best way to deal with this in his or her life. But though they all have very different things to say, all express their enduring love for their same-sex attracted family member or friend. No false guarantees A few of the interviewees suggest that there must be a link between the homosexuality of their loved one and traumatic experiences in his youth, like sexual abuse or growing up in a dysfunctional family. But this suggestion does not dominate the conversation, and it is not the message of the film. I am grateful for this, because I believe we should be careful here. Perhaps traumatic childhood experiences may have led some to feel same-sex attraction and self-identify as gay or lesbian. But it is not a given. And one can definitely not turn it around and conclude that every gay or lesbian must have had a horrible youth. We should keep something similar in mind when it comes to the view that proper counseling and professional therapy can change someone’s sexual orientation. Joe Dallas, the discussion leader in the background, whose comments connect the interviews, is actively involved in what is called “reparative therapy” or Christian “conversion therapy.” He is also the author of a number of books on this topic. But again – although there are hints – this opinion does not dominate the discourse at all, and it is definitely not the message of the documentary. And here, too, I am grateful for this because I believe we should be careful here. Is it possible for someone’s same-sex attraction to completely change and disappear? Yes, it has happened. Can proper counseling and professional therapy help to bring about change? Possibly. God’s children know that God can work miracles – He can do things we do not expect or find hard to imagine. But there are also reports that “reparative therapy” is often ineffective. Despite much counseling, and intense prayer, many Christians do not feel any lessening in their same-sex attraction. Several of the people that are interviewed emphasize how important it is to repent from sinful and harmful choices, and to turn to Jesus Christ. However, such repentance does not come with a promise or guarantee that feelings of same-sex attraction will then disappear. That’s why I appreciate that the film does not really get involved in this discussion. The most important thing Much more important than a change in sexual attraction is a turning to Jesus Christ as Saviour, so that our true identity is more and more in Him alone. Then it is no longer my sexuality, or whatever else, that determines my self-identification. Then Jesus Christ alone rules my life. He determines who I am, what my priorities are, and what my choices ought to be. He determines what I am to do with my life, which includes my sexual life. This is true not only for the homosexual but also for the heterosexual. It is true for each and every one of us. One of the best parts of the DVD is a special feature: an interview with Stephen Arterburn. Arterburn is the founder of New Life Ministries, a host of counseling talk shows on radio and TV, a public speaker, and the author of a number of books on (among other topics) sexual issues, such as Every Man’s Battle. In the interview on this DVD he shares the story of his brother, who lived the gay lifestyle. At some point Stephen says to him, “I don’t agree with what you do, but I love you without judging who you are.” This is basically the whole message of this DVD in one sentence: reject someone’s choice for the homosexual lifestyle, but make it very clear that you do not deny the way he feels, or the same-sex attraction he experiences, and that these things do not stop you from loving him. Later on his brother turned to Christ and broke with the gay life. But this repentance did not change his brother’s homosexual feelings. He continued to struggle with same-sex attraction, but regretted the bad choices he made, and now wants to warn others about the destructive consequences of living the gay life. Conclusion To sum it all up, in these interviews we meet a good number of people. They are all different, of course, and so are their circumstances. That’s why you can expect that some viewers will relate more to one person or one scenario than to another. This also means that you will not get answers to all the questions you may be struggling with. But that should not stop anyone. The whole DVD is worth watching for everyone. And don’t hesitate to include your young teens. It may make a good conversation starter between you and your 10 or 12 years old. You might think that he is too young for this. But remember: the LGBTQ groups don’t think he is too young for their propaganda! I recommend this film and DVD as a helpful tool for those who are having their own struggles with a child, a sibling, a spouse or a parent who has come out to tell that she is a lesbian. Actually… I hope that it will also end up in the hands of people, also young people, who have not (or not yet….) experienced the issues this documentary deals with. Watch it before you are confronted with this in your own family, or among your friends, or in your church. For one day you probably will be. You can order the DVD at Christianbooks.com here. End notes 1 Throughout this article I will use the pronoun “he” in place of “he or she.” It makes for tiresome reading to see constantly he/she or herself/himself. But it is good to remember that this issue affect males and females alike. 2 Recently a Reformed Christian was elected as MPP for the Conservatives in Ontario. When the journalists came out, one would expect them to ask this rookie MPP a range of questions to find out where he stands on the political issues of the day. However, never mind the great variety of topics parliamentarians are supposed to be busy with, the most important question was apparently: “Do you believe that homosexuality is a sin?” It was asked time and again, and made all the newspaper headlines. 3 For reliable study material about homosexuality and the Bible, see the website of Dr. Robert Gagnon, Associate Professor of NT at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, www.robgagnon.net. See also: DeYoung, Kevin, What does the Bible Really Teach about Homosexuality, Wheaton. Illinois: Crossway, 2015. 4 Recommended reading: Butterfield, Rosaria Champagne, The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert, Pittsburgh, Pa: Crown & Covenant Publications, 2012, and Hill, Wesley, Washed and Waiting, Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2010. Rev. Jan DeGelder is the minister emeritus for the Flamborough Canadian Reformed Church. This review first appeared in 2017....

Apologetics 101, Sexuality

10 tales to help us clear away transgender confusion

We live in a time when the obvious is not so. How exactly can we explain to someone who doesn’t get it, that saying you’re a woman doesn’t make you one? Three thousand years ago the prophet Nathan faced the same sort of problem – how to effectively explain the obvious. Anyone who has heard the Ten Commandments knows that murder and adultery are sins and yet King David had done both and remained entirely unrepentant. So in comes Nathan, with a story about a rich man who’d stolen and eaten his poor neighbor’s only sheep (2 Sam. 12). David, blind to his own sins, condemned the rich man to death for actions that paled in comparison to his own. That’s when Nathan connected the dots for him: if you think sheep stealing is bad, then what should you think about wife stealing? “You are the man!” he thundered. And David’s eyes were opened. Transgenders and their allies need their eyes opened too. To help clear away their confusion, here are 10 news items and other illustrations. They can be used in back-fence conversations or in letters to the editor or to our elected officials, and come in three broad groupings: A. We shouldn’t encourage people to harm themselves B. People can be wrong about their own bodies C. Wishing doesn’t make it so These analogies are like warning signs that tell us “Turn around!” “Hazardous!” and “Do not go any further!” That’s helpful, but a “Wrong way” sign only tells us what not to do. It doesn’t really point us in the right direction. So it’s important to understand that while these analogies can expose the transgender lie, they don’t do much to point people to the truth. For that we need to share God’s thoughts on gender, that He created us male and female (Gen. 5:2), and that when we deny this reality bad stuff happens – then we arrive at a point where the cruel and the sadly comical are celebrated and encouraged. What follows are examples of where this reality-denying path leads. A. WE SHOULDN’T ENCOURAGE PEOPLE TO HARM THEMSELVES The majority of transsexuals don’t undergo surgery, but many do. This involves cutting pieces of their body off. Why are we encouraging this self-harm? Lonely man wants to be a parrot Ted Richards likes parrots, and in an effort to look more like his pets he has had the whites of his eyes inked, feathers tattooed on his face, horns inserted into his skull, and his ears cut off. He has also recently changed his name to Ted Parrotman. One article had him saying he had only two friends. His loneliness comes out in other ways too – he has no regrets about changing his surname because: “I’ve not had any contact with my mother and father for years because we didn’t really get on – I don’t even know if they’re dead or alive, and I also don’t talk to my siblings anymore – so I felt no connection to having a family name.” When he appeared on The Jeremy Kyle Show the crowd applauded when the host declared, “There’s nothing wrong with being different.” No, but there is something wrong with cheering on self-destructive behavior. Abled bodied man cuts off one arm In 2015 the National Post profiled “One Hand Jason,” a man who cut off his right arm with a “very sharp power tool.” According to the Post: His goal was to become disabled. People like Jason have been classified as “transabled” – feeling like imposters in their bodies, their arms and legs in full working order. Like the transgendered, transabled people feel they have been born in the wrong bodies, but instead of objecting to their genitalia, the transabled object to their limbs, or their hearing, or even their lack of paralysis. And like the transgendered, some seek to address this discomfort by cutting bits of themselves off. Woman blinds herself Jewel Shuping wanted to be blind ever since she was a girl. She bought herself a white cane at 18 and learned Braille by 20, and then, at 23, paid a psychologist to pour drain cleaner in her eyes. She told the British Tabloid The Sun: “I really feel this is the way I was supposed to be born, that I should have been blind from birth.” B. PEOPLE CAN BE WRONG ABOUT THEIR OWN BODIES The previous three examples could also fall into this category, but Kevin DeYoung’s illustration that follows is especially good. Girl’s anorexia is affirmed In A Transgender Thought Experiment Kevin DeYoung tells the fictional story of a young woman who at just 95 pounds still thinks of herself as fat. She asks her counselor for help and he shows himself to an affirming sort. Rather than address her anorexia the counselor tells her: “If you tell me you’re fat, I’m not going to stand in the way of you accepting that identity….You are fat. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. It’s nothing to be ashamed of. It’s who you are.… No one can tell you what’s right or wrong with your body. After all, it’s your body…. it’s okay if you don’t eat much for lunch. Weight is only a social construct. Fat is a feeling, not a fact.” C. WISHING DOESN’T MAKE IT SO Four of the examples that follow are actual people, but the best illustration is probably the last one in this grouping, where Joseph Backholm asks a series of hypothetical questions to university students. And if people don’t believe the hypothetical could ever become actual, real examples are plentiful. Woman says she is another race The Afro-wearing, dark-skinned Rachel Dolezal was the president of the Spokane chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) from 2014 until June of 2015 when she resigned after it was revealed that both her biological parents were white. She later stated that she was “biologically born white to white parents, but I identify as black.” Man says he is another age Paul Wolscht is a heavy-set, six-foot tall, 52-year-old who wants to be a six-year-old girl named Stefoknee. In a video interview with the gay news site The Daily Xtra Wolscht explained that he has “an adopted mommy and daddy who are totally comfortable with me being a little girl. And their children and grandchildren are totally supportive.” “It’s liberated me from the hurt. Because if I’m six years old, I don’t have to think about adult stuff…I have access to really pretty clothes and I don’t have to act my age. By not acting my age I don’t have to deal with the reality that was my past because it hurt…” Wolscht has abandoned his wife of more than 20 years and his seven children, deciding that playing the part of a six-year-old girl is more to his liking than his role of husband and father. However, Wolscht has not abandoned caffeine or his car: “I still drink coffee and drive a car, right, even my tractor, but still I drive the tractor as a little kid. I drive my car as a little kid.” But, of course, six-year-olds really shouldn’t drink coffee, and driving is out of the question. So whether six or 52, Wolscht is not acting his age. One more thought to consider – Wolscht’s childish claims have been treated with respect by The Daily Xtra but what would they think of the reverse? As one of my teenage nieces put it, “Can I identify as a 22 year old and order a drink at a bar? Can I identify as a 16 year old and get my license?” Teens to get seniors’ discount? In April the American department store chain Target announced that they would “welcome transgender team members and guests to use the restroom or fitting room facility that corresponds with their gender identity.” In May the Christian satire site The Babylon Bee came out with an item about how the store would now allow “grant a 10% senior discount to any person who self-identifies as age 60 or older.” Woman says she another species Nano, a Norweigan woman claims she is a cat. She wears cloth ears and will, on occasion, crawl around on her hands and knees and meow at people. In a video interview with reporter Silje Ese she says she was 16 when she first realized she was a cat trapped in a human’s body. She distinguished her situation from that of her friend Svein, who, she says, is a human with a cat personality in his head (one of several personalities he exhibits), whereas she was born a cat. They both claimed to be able to communicate to each other in “cat language,” a claim which the reporter did not, of course, put to the test. Man says he is “mythical beast” Richard Hernandez has had his scales tattooed onto his face, arms and body, his ears removed, his eye whites dyed green, and his nostrils trimmed. Why? So he can become a female dragon. On one of his many blogs he describes himself as: “…the Dragon Lady…in the process of morphing into a human dragon, becoming a reptoid as I shed my human skin and my physical appearance and my life as a whole leaving my humanness behind and embracing my most natural self awareness as a mythical beast.” Guy says he is another height, gender, race and age In a popular YouTube video called College Kids Say the Darndest Things: On Identity, the short, very white, Joseph Backholm asked Washington University students if he could be a tall Chinese first-grader. They told him to go for it. https://youtu.be/xfO1veFs6Ho CONCLUSION These are fantastic illustrations of the insanity that results when we deny that it’s God who gets to define reality and not us. But the better the illustration, the stronger the temptation to rely on the story to do all the work for us. But like the prophet Nathan before us, after telling these tales we’ll need to spell out the transgender connection for our listening audience. What that might look like? Maybe a bit like this: Christian: Have you heard about the guy who cut off his arm because he felt like he should have been born disabled? Secular Sue: That is crazy! Someone needed to help that poor guy. He needed some counseling or something. Chris: I agree. But I got a question for you – some guys will cut off a significant bit of themselves because they think they should have been born girls. Do you think that’s crazy too? Sue: I think that’s different – gender is just a social construct, so if someone feel they are the wrong gender, then maybe surgery like that can help. Chris: So it’s crazy to cut off your arm but okay to cut off your…? Sue: Well…. Chris: Why the hesitation? Sue: Because when you put it like that it doesn’t sound quite right. Chris: That’s because it isn’t right. Self-mutilation is wrong. There’s a guy who was on a talk show about how, to become more like his parrots, he’d cut off his ears. The crowd applauded. Sue: Oh, that’s awful. Chris: I agree. But isn’t this just the logical end to encouraging transgenderism? If gender is changeable, what isn’t? And if all is changeable, how can we discourage anyone from trying to do just that? To each their own and all that. But Christians know that God made us male and female; we know He gets to define reality and we don’t; and we know that when we defy His reality, bad stuff results. Like people cutting off their ears to the approval of the clapping crowd. We’re not going to convince everyone, no matter how brilliant the analogy, so that mustn’t be our measure for success. Instead, we want to ask is, are we bringing clarity? Are eyes being opened? Is the world being presented with the choice they need to make? Do they realize they can either choose for God, male and female, and reality as He has defined it… or they choose chaos? https://youtu.be/q5-hq7wVOFc...

Marriage, Sexuality

A careful look at the issue of birth control

Children: a calling and a blessing **** God calls the Reformed husband and wife to bear children. Just as marriage is a creation ordinance, so God’s calling to bear children is a creation ordinance. Strikingly, the first thing God says after He creates the woman for the man is that together in their marriage they must bear children: “Be fruitful, and multiply”(Gen 1:28). This command necessitates a link between marital intimacy and the begetting of children (if God in His Providence grants that possibility). For the Reformed couple, this calling intensifies as they see from Scripture that God is pleased to carry on His covenant of structured fellowship also with the children of believers (Gen 7:7, Acts 2:39). Due to this promise, the Scriptures lay further weight upon God’s people to bear children (see Malachi 2:15 “And did not he make one?...And wherefore one? That he might seek a godly seed” and also 1 Timothy 5:14). Not only is bearing children a calling, but the Reformed couple also gleans from Scripture that children (many!) are a blessing from God (Psalm 127:3-5; Psalm 128:3-4). When the Lord grants little ones to His Church, their presence stands as a reminder of His love and favor and covenant promises. This does not mean the bearing of children is easy. God’s curse for sin affects all things, and this aspect of life in particular (Gen 3:16-19). While God has not made bearing and raising children itself a curse, His curse affects the bearing and raising of children. God has, due to sin, greatly increased a woman’s sorrow in bearing children, and at the same time increased her ability to bear them. The curse has also affected the husband’s calling to support those children. The creation from which he must derive their support works against him instead of with him. REGARDING THE USE OF BIRTH CONTROL GENERALLY The first two truths (that bearing children is both a calling and a blessing) almost put the issue of birth control to rest for God’s people. Indeed, some couples will conclude it is best to never prevent or plan the conception of children. If these couples faithfully raise all the children they bear unto the Lord, then the whole Church is thankful for their godly example and prays for more of their kind. However, as much as we want to caution against its use, we would argue that the reality of the curse of God for sin may allow for the careful use of (some forms of) birth control in some cases. But because selfishness can quickly exploit even that statement, we begin discussing this matter by addressing the heart. Why would we prevent the birth of children? Birth control broadly defined is anything that can prevent the birth of children. There are ethically legitimate and ethically illegitimate methods of birth control. However, even if one allows for the use of ethically legitimate methods of birth control in some cases, he must recognize they can be and often are used wickedly. The issue begins in the motives of the heart. The great question everyone has to ask (including newly married couples who are expected by so many to wait at least a year or two to have children) is: “Why? Why would I prevent the birth of children into my covenant home?” And the Reformed couple must answer this question honestly, for we easily deceive ourselves (Jer. 17:9). As the Reformed couple engages in this heart-probing, consider that the very origin of chemical birth control was the constant push for sex without responsibility in society. It’s not just necessity, but the desire for pleasure, that is the mother of invention. Google a chart of birth rates in United States history, and you will see that the line plummets after 1960 when chemical birth control went on the market, and that the line continues to steadily drop until it arrives at its lowest point in 2016. The ever-increasing desire for pleasure combined with the ever-decreasing desire for responsibility in the world can affect us as Reformed Christians too. So as you answer “why would we prevent the birth of children?” consider the following kinds of questions: Do we seek a standard of living that far exceeds even that of our parents and grandparents in their child-bearing years (not to mention that of the vast majority of the rest of the world)? Have materialism, worldly comforts, and extravagant vacations clouded our thinking? God doesn’t desire that His children be at ease, but that they joyfully and self-sacrificially serve Him by raising children, all the while detaching from the things of this world. Are we selfishly guarding a worldly notion of marriage? Are we stingy with respect to our time? Children require a tremendous sacrifice of time and energy – often around the clock. This sacrifice means less time fishing, hanging out with the guys, or sitting in front of the television or computer. Wives, is your view of physical beauty defined by the world? For a woman having children involves a sacrifice not only of her time and personal desires, but also her very body. After several children, she may look in the mirror and feel embarrassed about the dramatic changes she sees. Husbands, do you assure your wife that she has not been “ruined” as the world would say, but that she is beautiful with a beauty that the world cannot see? We can’t say for another couple That said, there is no biblical rule as to when each couple’s quiver is full, and due to the reality of the curse upon life in this world, there are factors that a couple may legitimately consider in thinking about family planning. A mother may face health issues, even ones that can endanger her life and lives of future children (just a few examples include multiple c-sections, extreme diabetes, and cancer). The mental and emotional health of especially the mother may have to be considered (taking care not to cover up selfishness). Postpartum depression is a real issue. In addition, some women are simply physically and emotionally frailer than others. Maybe there is a child (or children) with special needs requiring a great deal of time and energy. Maybe the house is full and teetering on the edge of Mom and Dad’s ability to faithfully rear the children. In these cases (and perhaps others), we believe God’s people have to make judgments with much prayer and soul-searching. This matter is intensely difficult, especially because the old man inside us can be so deceptive. Even sincere Reformed believers may disagree. We must all use sanctified wisdom and live coram Deo (before the face of God). The rule we believe is biblical is that we ought to have as many children as we are able to have, understanding “able” to mean not merely as many as we can have without cramping our lifestyle, nor meaning necessarily as many as we are able to physically produce. Rather, “able” means, able to faithfully raise in the fear of the Lord. Each couple must stand before God. If a couple’s honest answer to that is three, so be it. If it is fifteen, or as many as we are physically able to bear, so be it. The key principle is that we are honest with ourselves before God and are vigilantly on the lookout for selfish motives hiding under the pretense of spiritual ones. And we ought to pray that the preaching ever warns us of that possibility. WHAT BIRTH CONTROL IS ETHICALLY PERMISSIBLE? If a couple before the face of God honestly believes they ought to use birth control at a certain time in their life, what forms are ethically acceptable? All Reformed couples ought to personally research the matter in order to make God-honoring decisions. Here is what we have discovered in our own research. “Emergency contraception” First of all, we must begin with the conviction that life begins at conception. So many doctors (some Christian ones too), speak of life beginning at various other points in the growth process of the fertilized egg. What one says about when life begins will determine what one says about what forms of birth control are ethically permissible. All forms of chemical birth control that are taken after intercourse, such as the “morning-after pill,” RU-486, “emergency contraception,” etc., are abortifacients (drugs which induce abortion). Using these drugs after intercourse, and if you have conceived (which one does not know) it is no different from going into an abortion clinic to kill your child a few months later. It is murder. Other forms of chemical birth control Regarding chemical birth control one takes regularly, such as the birth control pill (whether combined or progestin only), shots, and IUDS, the Reformed couple must be aware of the facts. According to the recently published God, Marriage, and Family these common forms of chemical birth control work to prevent the birth of a child three ways: The first is by preventing an egg from being released. The second is by thickening the cervical mucus so that the sperm cannot reach the egg if an egg is released anyway (which some experts estimate happens as often as 50 percent of the time). The third is by making the lining of the uterus incapable of supporting the life of a newly conceived child given the first two methods fail. There is no ethical issue in itself with the first two actions of the pill. But the third causes an abortion. So the question becomes, do the first two methods of the pill ever fail? We quote from the book mentioned above: Statistically speaking, when taken as directed, these various types of hormone-based birth control methods are effective (in their first two lines of defense—that is preventing conception CG) 99.5 percent of the time…. From this fact, one can know for certain that while “the pill” is effective in preventing ovulation and preventing fertilization, it does not prevent all fertilization. While there is no statistical data to indicate how many births are terminated by the third mechanism, one can be assured that it does occur. Though admittedly, the possibility of breaking the sixth commandment here is small, it is still a possibility, and therefore chemical birth control ought not be used by the child of God. This leaves only three ethically legitimate methods: natural family planning, barrier methods, and surgical sterilization.  CONCLUSION  As with every matter in the Christian life, obedience begins in the heart. A heart that responds to the gospel of redeeming grace is filled with gratitude. Gratitude needs a riverbed to flow into. That riverbed is the law of God. We hope we have given some help in determining what God’s law is and is not in these matters, and in setting forth the principles by which we may live in godliness. May God bless us as we live before His face as husband and wife, and as we bring up the godly seed He so graciously gives us. ENDNOTES This is not the only purpose of marital intimacy as the Roman Catholic Church wrongly teaches (among other passages see 1 Corinthians 7:5 and The Song of Solomon). Otherwise a couple who could not bear children would be required to abstain from marital intimacy. Neither does it imply that every act of marital intimacy must have the possibility of conception. However, it does mean a couple must seek to bear children in their marriage. The argument to the contrary from the case of Onan in Genesis 38 does not take into consideration the issues of levirate marriage involved in that passage. This includes everything that prevents conception, to the murder of children conceived but not yet born. 1.8 children per woman, and it’s only that high because of the Hispanic population. We understand even the question of what it means to faithfully raise children in the fear of the Lord will garner disagreement. This aspect too bears serious consideration and discussion as each couple stands before God. It would be worthwhile to read a portion of the book God Marriage and Family we refer to a few paragraphs later. Pages 123-129 are germane. Another worthwhile resource is the book, Does the Birth Control Pill Cause Abortions? by Randy Alcorn. In addition to those sources, we have conferred with believing doctors we know personally. This is another article, but the main reason for this position is conclusive. At the moment of fertilization there is a complete genome (determining gender, eye color, height, body type, etc) in the new being. Therefore, the new being is another individual life separate from that of the father and mother. If an individual being with a complete genome, separate from the life of the mother and father is not a separate life, then what is it? If you ask a doctor (even some Christian ones) if a particular form of birth control causes an abortion he may say no, but that may be because he believes life does not begin at conception. He may also further confuse the issue by stating that this particular drug cannot terminate a pregnancy. This is because he may define pregnancy as beginning later than the moment of conception. The authors cite their credible medical sources. Kostenberger, Andreas J., and David W. Jones. God, Marriage, and Family: Rebuilding the Biblical Foundation. 2nd ed. Wheaton: Crossway, 2010. 337, footnote 29. Print. There are some Christian women who take birth control pills as medicine for other physical maladies. If that is you, then you ought to also use barrier methods of birth control to prevent the possibility of breaking the sixth commandment. We are not now saying anything about whether or not these should be used in any individual case, we are merely stating that these are the only ethical forms to use. This article was originally published in the April 15, 2016 issue of The Standard Bearer and is reprinted here with permission. Rev. and Mrs. Griess live in Grand Rapids, Michigan....

Sexuality

The ethical issue of transsexuality

Editor’s note: though this article is 20 years old, it is just as relevant today as when it was first written. **** A correspondent recently requested that I share some Biblical insight on the issue of transsexualism, an increasing and bizarre phenomenon of our sex-crazed and sex-confused age. Only recent medical technology has made it possible for a male to undergo surgery which will change "him" anatomically into a female (and vice verse). Does the ancient law of God help us draw any ethical evaluation of such a thing? The correspondent asked whether such surgery changes a person's standing in terms of God's commandments. (Is "he/she" free to marry? Should "he/she" be encouraged in the newly assumed sexual role?) Should a post-operative transsexual be counseled from Scripture to restore "his/her" former status? How should the church be involved? In reply I pointed out that although my book, Homosexuality: A Biblical View (Baker Book House, 1978), does not directly address the issue of transsexualism, it does offer us by implication an ethical evaluation of such a thing. Scripture clearly teaches us that it is an abomination in God's eyes to pursue or even to desire sexual relations with a person of one's own gender. Such a desire is in effect a desire to be a member of the opposite sex (who would, as such, properly qualify as a sex partner for one's own gender). Thus the condemnation of homosexuality would reasonably apply to transsexual desires and behavior as well (as they pertain, at least, to sexual conduct and interests). But Scripture speaks more directly to the ethical issue of transsexuality as well. We can see this by first taking note of the fact that a male does not truly become a female by means of any surgical procedure now practiced. Part of one's sexual identity as a male or female is one's biological part and function in bringing about children. "Male and female created He them.... and God said unto them, 'Be fruitful and multiply'" (Gen. 1:27-28). This is only part of one's sexual identity, to be sure. And sadly, for some individuals, this aspect of their bodily identity does not function in a healthy or normal fashion (e.g., impotent males, barren females). Moreover, one may have the normal function and choose to keep it from coming to issue (e.g., abstinence, vasectomy, tubal ligation). Nevertheless, speaking as to the nature of the gender classification, to be a male (ideally or according to divine intention) entails the ability to impregnate, and to be a female (ideally) entails the ability to bear a child. Those who undergo sex-change operations do not fundamentally "change" their sexuality since they do not acquire impregnating or child-bearing abilities, as the case may be (this having nothing to do with a voluntary choice not to do so). What are we to think of someone who has undergone a surgical change of anatomy, then? At best, the person who has a sex-change operation is involved in an elaborate and extreme game of "dressing up" as the other gender (acquiring bodily parts which facilitate an outward costume). Here we have a bizarre biological masquerade. Now then, when transsexualism is seen in this perspective, the Bible all of a sudden speaks directly and obviously to it as an ethical issue. Deuteronomy 22:5 declares: "A woman shall not wear what pertains to a man, neither shall a man put on a woman's garment; for whosoever does these things is an abomination unto Jehovah your God." If true in the lesser case (items of clothing), how much more in the greater (items of biology)! The condemnation of cross-dressing covers crossing over sexually as well. A person who has undergone a sex-change operation but the later comes to Christian conversion needs to repent of this (as any other) sin and do the works appropriate to repentance. This would involve "getting back" to where they belong sexually (thus seeking a reversal operation), hating all desires to be other than what God has made them sexually, and seeking to live in a godly fashion as the male/female they were created to be. The church must counsel and support the converted transsexual in these things, as it helps all other kinds of sinners. This article was first published in the June 1995 issue of Penpoint (Vol. VI:6) and is reprinted with permission of Covenant Media Foundation, which hosts and sells many other Dr. Bahnsen resources on their website www.cmfnow.com...

Pro-life - Abortion, Sexuality

Abraham Lincoln, on abortion

How would one of history's great figures have dealt with the biggest issue of our time? We don't have to wonder – while Abraham Lincoln didn't address abortion directly, he did still speak to the issue. In the 1800s American slave trade supporters tried justifying the practice of slavery any number of ways. Lincoln was very good at tearing those justifications apart and the technique he used is one that transfers directly to the plight of the unborn. In one of his speeches he argued: If A can prove, however conclusively, that he may, of right, enslave B why may not B snatch the same argument, and prove equally, that he may enslave A? You say A is white and B is black. It is color, then; the lighter, having the right to enslave the darker? Take care. By this rule, you are to be slave to the first man you meet, with a fairer skin than your own. You do not mean color exactly? You mean the whites are intellectually the superiors of the blacks, and, therefore have the right to enslave them? Take care again. By this rule, you are to be slave to the first man you meet, with an intellect superior to your own. But, say you, it is a question of interest; and, if you can make it your interest, you have the right to enslave another. Very well. And if he can make it his interest, he has the right to enslave you. Biblical inspiration? Lincoln turned the slave trade supporters' justifications back on them, arguing that if it is good for you, then you shouldn’t object if this same logic is then used by someone else to justify enslaving you. If his strategy seems familiar, it's because it aligns perfectly with what Jesus says in Matthew 7:1-2: Judge not, that you be not judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. What Jesus issued as a warning Lincoln used as a tool. So how might this tool work in the abortion debate? We could begin by noting that if someone argues the unborn can be killed because they are smaller than us, then, as Lincoln might have put it, “Take care. By this rule you could be killed by the first man you meet who is bigger than you.” Or if it comes down to some ability, then watch out when you meet someone who is more able than you. Self-interest? This is a major justification for abortion: a child would interfere with our lifestyle. But, “take care again – by this rule you may be killed by any who can show it is in their self-interest for you to be dead.” Conclusion Lincoln lived more than 150 years ago, but we can still learn from him. Lincoln showed the standard of justice that slave owners were trying to apply was one they wouldn't want applied to themselves. That sort of hypocrisy still happens today, and not only to the unborn. We have only to think of Christian bakery owners or flower shop owners who are not allowed to work according to their conscience. And yet the world celebrates when a dress designer refuses, because of her own convictions, to dress the First Lady. Let's do as Lincoln did, and ask them to apply their own arguments to themselves. And then let's insist on an answer....

Sexuality

You think feelings can redefine reality? What if I told you I feel like they don’t?

There’s a special sort of tyranny at work these days – it is the sort that not only ignore reality itself, but demands that everyone else do so too…or else. There are many examples of this. For instance: there is the idea that there really are no differences between men and women, and that both can perform all tasks to the same degree. there is an idea that the unborn only become human beings when the mother decides they are human beings. there is the idea that marriage is something that can take place between two men or two women. there is the idea that a person who was born biologically male can transition to become female, and vice versa. How they’re pulling off this trick Transgenderism offers a good case in point. Take the recent Gender Identity Guidance issued by the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination. According to Eugene Volokh, writing in the Washington Post:  “Under Massachusetts law, refusing to use a transgender person’s preferred pronoun would be punishable discrimination. (At least this is true of “he” or “she” — I saw nothing in the document about “ze” and other newly made-up pronouns.) The Massachusetts document … makes that clear in the employment context, and it also makes clear that the antidiscrimination law rules apply to places of public accommodations (including churches, in “secular events” “open to the public”) just as much as to employment.”  Now, let’s notice the sleight of hand that has taken place in the whole transgender issue. Take the imaginary case of Bob, who is transitioning to become Carol. He is objectively male, right? That is his factual, actual biological sex. By which I mean that at some point in the past, the midwife present at his birth pronounced him to be a boy, and we can assume that she made this assessment on the basis of objective data, rather than on a personal whim. Indeed, had she pronounced Bob to be a girl, or even non-gender specific, despite the clear evidence to the contrary, Bob’s parents would no doubt have corrected her and, had she still insisted on ignoring the evidence, made a complaint.  But at some point after that, Bob came to believe that the objective data was wrong. So he chose to undergo a process of bodily mutilation. Note, however, that the objective data was not wrong. How could it be? It is objective, including physically provable characteristics and XY chromosomes. As a recent report from the American College of Pediatricians puts it: “Human sexuality is an objective biological binary trait: “XY” and “XX” are genetic markers of male and female, respectively – not genetic markers of disorder.” They go on to say that: “No one is born with a gender. Everyone is born with a biological sex. Gender (an awareness of oneself as male or female) is a sociological and psychological concept; not an objective biological one.” In other words, while we can state with absolute certainty that biological sex is a demonstrably objective reality, Bob’s decision to transition away is based on a subjective feeling. Indeed, the very fact that Bob needs surgery to make the transition rather proves the point. (As an aside, those arguing for transgenderism need to answer the question of why the body, which is objectively one thing or the other, should be made to conform to a subjective feeling of the mind, rather than the other way around.) But having made this demonstrably feelings-based decision, what happens next? Having taken a decision which is contrary to objective reality, Bob now not only identifies as a sex which is opposite to his objective biological one, but now expects everyone else to accept his feelings as having the power to redefine objective reality. Do you see what has happened? We’ve gone through four stages: Objective reality Denial of objective reality The presentation of a subjective experience The insistence that this new subjective experience is now objective truth to be assented to and obeyed Oh and there is now a fifth stage, which is that if we don’t play along, and also pretend that feelings can redefine reality, we get a label pinned to us – hater, transphobe, bigot etc – and possibly accused of a “hate crime.” If feelings beat facts…  Here are a couple of questions that we should be asking those who insist on this: If someone acts contrary to objective reality, what grounds do they then have for insisting that everyone else treat their feelings as objectively true facts? If someone chooses to make their identity a matter of feelings, what grounds do they have for saying that the rest of us cannot do the same, and call them “him” or “her” depending on how we feel? The answer to both these questions is that they have no grounds whatsoever. Having denied objective reality in favor of subjective feelings, they have no grounds to then demand that we all accept their subjective feelings as being objective facts. Secondly, having insisted on their own subjective experience as being the ultimate authority, they have no grounds for denying anyone else the same right to exercise their subjective feelings on the subject. So if someone believes Bob to be a box of breakfast cereal, for instance, I can say that they are wrong, and I can do so on the basis that the objective data shows clearly that Bob is not a box of breakfast cereal, but rather a human being. However, if Bob tries to deny someone the right to believe and openly state that he is a box of breakfast cereal, this flies in the face of the logic he used in the first place to proclaim against his own objective biological sex. Who knows – perhaps denying people their subjective rights to call other people boxes of breakfast cereal might even be a new hate crime. Bransphobia? It’s not going to get better soon And yet despite having no grounds to insist on these things, they are insisting on it in increasingly vitriolic tones, and with the threat of the law behind them. This is how the new sort of tyranny works. It tears up objective reality, then imposes a new subjectivity in its place. But it doesn’t stop there. It then insists that society embraces that subjectivity as now being objectively true, and censure, shout down, and even prosecute those who refuse to play ball. The bad news is that things aren’t going to get better anytime soon. Those who are busy denying reality as God has given it and defined it, are too invested in their delusions to give them up. They aren’t suddenly going to say, “Hey, I guess it is really rather stupid to insist that there are no differences between men and women, or that two men can marry.” No, they will double down, and triple down on it for the foreseeable future. And as they do, there will come more assaults on objective reality, more attempts to force others to embrace their delusion, and more efforts to get us all to put our rubber stamp of approval on this folly. Those who dissent will be stigmatized, penalized and coerced into silence. This is what this newest sort of tyranny does. Our hope and our response? But the good news? It is that the Triune God of Heaven and Earth – not these tyrants – is actually the final arbiter of what is real and what is true, and He will not allow this situation to go on indefinitely. It’s his world and his reality, and He will at some point overthrow those who attempt to overthrow his order. Time and time throughout history, He has risen up to overthrow his enemies and deliver his people. And He will do so again. However, these deliverances ordinarily come when his people truly “cry out to the Lord.” So let me finish up by asking a very searching question. I recently held a discussion group with some Christian friends, where I covered a little of the history of how we ended up with transgenderism, same-sex marriage, no-fault divorce, family breakdown, tolerance and diversity, sex education, egalitarianism, feminism, “homophobia” and “hate” crimes. Having gone through it all, and having unanimously agreed that it was all quite mad and more than a little disquieting, I asked the following question: “Put your hand up if you are praying fervently to the Triune God on a regular basis to come and save us and our culture from this mess.” No hands went up. How about you? Rob Slane is the author of “A Christian & an Unbeliever Discuss: Life, the Universe & Everything” which is available at Amazon.ca here and Amazon.com here....

Sexuality

A is A…except when it wants to be S?

The transsexual debate and the death of logic “Hi A. It is A, isn’t it? I hardly recognized you there. It’s B. Remember me? How are you doing?” “I’m fine. Well I’m … well it’s just … I’m …” “What is it A? Is something the matter? You don’t look quite yourself.” “Look, B. There’s something I need you to know. I’m no longer known as A.” “What do you mean you’re no longer known as A, A?” “I mean I no longer identify as A. In fact, from now on I’d like you to call me S.” “S?” “Yes. S.” “I’m afraid you’ve lost me.” “Look, it’s quite simple. You’ve always known me as A, and all my life everyone told me I was A. But recently I started to question whether that’s really who I am. And the more I questioned it, the more I realized I was just the victim of social conditioning and prejudice. To put it bluntly, I’ve been brainwashed into thinking that I’m A.” “Social conditioning? Brainwashing? But A, you are A. How could you be anything else? Remember the first rule of logic: A = A and so A can’t = non-A.” “Well I simply don’t agree. In fact I believe that’s nothing but an outdated social construct.” “Social construct? But it’s an obvious truth. And it’s true for all times and all places.” “There’s nothing obvious about it whatsoever, and frankly I’m amazed that anyone living in our post-modern culture could still think it is.” “Ah, I thought as much. You’ve been listening to the post-modernists haven’t you? Well frankly I don’t much care what they say about it. It’s self-evidently true that A = A and there’s an end to it.” Do feelings make the man? “You know, B, I had always thought of you as a fairly open-minded letter. But I’m beginning to detect a quite shocking level of intolerance in you. Listen. Maybe this will persuade you. All my life I’ve had this nagging suspicion that I might be different. I’ve never much liked the way I look. That silly pointy bit at the top and that even sillier horizontal bar in the middle. And that’s just the capital “me.” Don’t get me started on the little “me”! But I’ve always admired S. Beautiful curvy letter is S. Well thankfully we’ve moved on from outmoded stereotypes that would have meant that I stayed an S trapped inside an A’s body, and I can now be any letter I want.” If gender, why not species? “But you can’t be an S. Surely you can see that?” “You know, I don’t think I’ve ever come across such a shocking level of bigotry. Why can’t I be another letter entirely, if I want to? Who are you to say what I can and can’t be?” “Why stop at a letter then? Maybe you could identify as a number. I could call you 1. Or 19 if you like. Or maybe even a duck.” “Adding sarcasm to hate speech doesn’t make it any less hateful.” “Hate speech? I said nothing hateful. But A, do you not see what will happen all if you insist on calling yourself S?” “Such as?” You already have a role to fill “Well, I don’t know how we’d get along without an A. I mean, imagine if we tried driving to Alberta without you.” “What do you mean?” “Ever tried driving to Slberts? And what about that fellow who got caught up in the tree after trying to topple his father from the throne. Now what was his name?” “Absalom?” “No. Sbsslom I think it was. Not to mention what we’ll do with the poor old SSrdvsrk. Can’t you see how ridiculous it all is?” “Well I’m not going to stand here all day being lectured by someone who is clearly a Hater and a Transletterphobe.” “You mean ‘someone who is clesrly s Hster snd s Trsnsletterphobe’? You see, all you’ve succeeded in doing by refusing to abide by the simple truth that you are A and that you cannot therefore = non-A is to sow chaos and confusion. Imagine what will happen if T wants to become C, or Y wants to become X.” “As it happens, Y is already well on her way to becoming X thank you very much. She’s a chromosome, you see. She used to be male but now identifies as X. And as for X, he’s sometimes identifying as Y. You have a problem with that?” “Well yes, actually. It’s just a clear denial of objective reality.” “Objective reality? Hah! What you need to realize is that every letter has the right to identify as whichever letter they want, and every other letter ought to respect their feelings.” Why should your feelings win? “Hmm! Fair enough. You win. I will no longer identify you as A.” “Good. Thank you.” “Instead, I shall now identify you as H.” “H? But I just told you I identify you as S, didn’t I.” “Yes you did, but your basis for doing so was based firstly on a denial of objective reality, and then on making subjective opinions and feelings your standard. And, I might add, you said we all have to respect that. Well okay, in my subjective opinion, I no longer identify you as A, or indeed as S, but as H. Are you prepared to respect that?” “But I’m S and you have no right to call me H.” “No right? So let me get this straight. You decree that there is no such thing as objective reality (A = A) and that your feelings are king. Then you insist that I accept your definition as truth and call me a hater, a bigot and a phobe if I don’t. So what you have done is to use your subjective feelings to create your own new ‘objective reality’ and insist that I accept it. Well sorry, I refuse. Two can play at that game and I say you’re an H! Now you’re not going to be a Transletterphobe, a bigot, and a hater and deny me my rights are you? Or is subjectivism taken to its logical conclusion as hard for you to bear as it is for me?” Postscript After this exchange the letter B was hauled off for tolerance training where he is learning that the right to define objective truth is the sole preserve of the Cultural Marxists who denied it in the first place. Rob Slane is the author of "A Christian & an Unbeliever Discuss: Life, the Universe & Everything" which is available at Amazon.ca here and Amazon.com here....

Sexuality

FIGHT! A message from the most porn-riddled country in the world

In 2016, Google pronounced the country where I pastor, Papua New Guinea (PNG), the most porn-riddled country in the world. This “fact” was established by the number of times the word "porn" or "pornography" had been typed into their search engine. However, I know the Western world is not any better off; they merely search under more perverse words, which cover the full orb of sexual perversions known to mankind. What saddens me more is that those who claim allegiance to Christ are not free from this perversion. A recent study from Barna Group revealed that in America: 77% of self-attested Christian 18-30 year-old men (with a growing number of women) view porn at least monthly. And 77% of men 31-49 view it at least every three months, while over 20% are addicted. This is huge. If you view porn weekly, monthly or bi-monthly or whatever the interval of time between viewings might be, there are serious signs of addiction prevalent in your life. And you will feel the impact: viewing porn throws one's faith into question, one’s life into a constant cycle of guilt and shame, and can throw the sacred institution of marriage into jeopardy. Do your deeds match what you profess? We can talk about being justified by faith. We can boldly proclaim that, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1). We can say, "I am a sinner saved by grace”, and say it a thousand times a day, but if we are living to gratify the flesh then the fact is we are not pleasing God! Further, it may evidence that we may not even belong to Christ. As we read Romans 8:7-8: “…the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God's law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.” The word hostile here in Romans 8:8 may be better translated as enmity.  That means you cannot look at porn websites, or read trashy, porn-riddled novels like Fifty Shades of Grey, or watch nudity in films or in online games or on apps (and etc. and etc.), and have peace with God. You are creating enmity between you and God. But not only is there enmity between you and God, this also moves on a horizontal level.  Hostility grows, especially between spouses and family members, at the cost of this perversity.  The fact is, you cannot look at porn and be at peace with or be a blessing to your spouse – present or future – or your family, your friends, or anyone else. One cannot do both. You cannot feed the flesh and feed the vertical or horizontal relationships with love and truth. To feed the one is to starve the other. And if we feed the flesh, satisfying its insatiable hunger for more, we leave those we love with all the pain of a relationship starved of the attributes that sustain its healthy growth.  Hope Is there hope?  Yes. The Gospel still rings with the clarion call of reconciliation between us and God, in Christ. And through that restored relationship, we can also find hope for reconciliation between us and those around us. There is hope because it is still true that "…there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1). Amen.  There is grace for the wretched man or woman, like you and me, who daily confesses their sins and addiction and seeks God’s grace!  Grace upon grace. However, this is the point of our salvation:  the new birth in Christ by God’s Spirit creates a radically new lifestyle! As we read in 2 Corinthians 5:17: “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation, the old has gone, the new has come.” And if you are found in Christ you do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. “For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who living according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit” (Romans 8:5). There is another clarion call in this Gospel of grace and that is that we need to fight! Fight the flesh.  Make it our slave.  Make it obedient to Christ (cf 1 Corinthians 9:27).  In short, we need to take up spiritual arms. Make war! “No more murmuring about our imperfections,” as Pastor John Piper has said, rather: "make war.” Make war with all the artillery and armament of heaven: the sword of the Spirit; the belt of truth; the shield of faith; the helmet of salvation; the feet fitted with the Gospel of peace; the breastplate of righteousness and prayer. (Ephesians 6:13ff). Fight with all the resources at your disposal: accountability with spiritual friends or mentors transparency with those close to you seek counsel from your pastor or elder filters on everything (eg. use Safe Eyes, or Covenant Eyes, or others) if your smartphone enslaves you, throw it out pray and meditate upon the Gospel promises daily as you trust in Christ’s righteousness And do not surrender.  The cost of surrendering to the flesh is too high. I live in a country where fights are sparked at the drop of a hat. But I assure you that the fight worth fighting is this one. And know that the blessed value of winning this fight daily, in the grace given us from above, is indescribable peace and a clear conscience! That is a precious gift! May this Gospel of grace and truth flow through this porn riddled land we call PNG, and no less every country in this world lost in deep sexual perversion. Pastor Ian Wildeboer is a missionary from the Free Reformed Churches of Australia serving in Papua New Guinea. A version of this article first appeared in the June 2016 issue of Tulait Magazine and is reprinted here with permission. In that publication the article was paired with a very good article by John Piper on 6 strategies for fighting lust....