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In a Nutshell

Tidbits - June 2018

FUTURECASTING Dr. Kathy Koch has a saying that reflects the biblical thought Paul express in 1 Cor.15:33. She notes, “Show me your friends, and I will show you your future.” ALL MARRIAGES ARE MISTAKES “Only a very wise man at the end of his life could make a sound judgment concerning whom, amongst the total chances, he ought most profitably to have married! Nearly all marriages, even happy ones, are mistakes: in the sense that almost certainly (in a more perfect world, or even with a little more care in this very imperfect one) both partners might have found more suitable mates. But the 'real soul-mate' is the one you are actually married to.” – JRR Tolkien, The Letters of JRR Tolkien (H/T to Nicholas McDonald) WEST COAST WHINE Sue arrived in BC on a rainy day. When she woke up the next day, it was raining. It also rained the day after that, and the day after that. And the day after that. Going out to lunch, she saw a young boy jumping in the puddles, and out of despair she asked, "Hey kid! Does it ever stop raining around here?" The boy replied, "How should I know? I'm only 8." SOURCE: Modified from a joke floating around the Internet BEING BEREAN The folks at WrathAndGrace.com have come up with a T-shirt that’s a challenge to fellow Christians. We have lots of beliefs, we have lots of opinions, lots of positions, but have we searched the Scriptures to find out if they match up with what God says? WHY THE END DOESN'T JUSTIFY THE MEANS “What have you and I to do with maintaining our influence and position at the expense of truth? It is never right to do a little wrong to obtain the greatest possible good… Your duty is to do the right: consequences are with God.” – John MacArthur, as cited in Iain Murray’s John MacArthur SATIRE'S KING KNEW A GOOD JOKE WHEN HE MET ONE Jonathan Swift (1667-1745) showed generations how to do satire right and it seems his comic genius came from an ability to spot humor wherever it was to be found. A story is told of him trudging through a field, when he spotted a boy leaning lazily against a fence post. Swift asked the boy for direction to the nearby town to which the boy’s only reply was to shift his boot slightly, pointing the way with his toe. Swift laughed, and offered the boy a shilling if he could manage anything any lazier than what he had just done. The boy replied, “Put the shilling in my pocket.” SOURCE: Fintan O’Toole’s “The Genius of Creative Destruction” in the Dec. 19, 2013 edition of The New York Review ON PRAISING EFFORT, NOT TALENT Luke Gilkerson is best known for his expertise in helping parents protect their children from online dangers. But in his book Parenting the Internet Generation, he shows he’s got wisdom to share on all aspects of parenting. Resist the urge to praise your children in a way that labels them. Statements like “You’re so smart,” “You’re so kind,” “You’re my little Picasso” do our children very little good. Research shows when we praise children like this, labeling them as “smart” or “good,” this does not give them confidence. Instead they become highly sensitive to failure. Rather focus on praising the effort they put forth. If they show kindness to their sibling, tell them you’re glad they are working on paying attention to the needs of others. If they get an A on an exam, instead of telling they must be the smartest kid in class, ask them how they studied for the test and commend them for their work. Instead of giving our children an identity as “good” or “smart,” commend them for using their God-given talents and energy wisely. ABRAHAM LINCOLN ON TRANSGENDERISM? How's this for a great illustration for the transgender debate? Abraham Lincoln once told the story of a boy who was asked, how many legs would a calf have if we called its tail a leg. The boy replied, that it must be five. But he was corrected, because, after all, simply calling a tail a leg, doesn’t make it a leg. So it would seem that Lincoln understood that no matter what words we might use, words can't change the nature of a thing – a rose by any other name would smell just as sweet, and a man by any other name is still what he always was. But here's the problem – he told this story in the context of considering whether he could, simply by Executive Order, free the slaves in the South. It seems, people wanted him to, and his response was, in effect "Guys, Executive Orders don't have that power, and you can't just make them have that power by saying that they do." And then, shortly afterward, we all know what happened. He issued an Executive Order called the Emancipation Proclamation that freed the slaves. And it worked...eventually (first, they actually had to conquer the South). So this is one of those great illustrations that, on closer examination, serves to make almost the opposite point. It seems you can change the nature of some things just by saying so - if you just declare an Executive Order can free slaves (and enough people agree) then it can. So does that mean men can become women? Nope. It just shows that some things are changeable. Just as Lincoln's Proclamation did actually free the slaves just because he declared the Order to have that power, so too I can (sometimes) change a dour mood by declaring my happiness with as much gusto as I can muster. I've become happy just because I've said it is should be so. This clarifies one point in the gender debate – we were never trying to say that all things are fixed and unchangeable. We were only arguing that gender is not one of those changeable things. And roses too. Roses are still roses, and smell just as sweet, even if you call them limburger cheese. Of course, Lincoln's quip about the 5-legged calf does still highlight that some things are fixed. But there are no shortage of good illustrations for that point. So this one is best left tucked away in the history books.  ...

Apologetics 101, Politics, Sexuality

"Am I A Chinese Woman?" How questions can defend the Truth

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xfO1veFs6Ho&feature=youtu.be It was a political science class in my first year in university, with a hundred-some students spread out around the large auditorium. When the professor asked us, by show of hands, to indicate who was pro-life I popped my arm up quickly. It was only then I realized, mine was the lone hand up. The prof scanned the room, and when he saw me tucked up against the back wall, 20 rows away, this 50-something-year-old came sprinting down the aisle, then scampering up and over the last few rows of seats, until we were face to face. “Why,” he asked, “are you pro-life?” He waited, and I could see my classmates twisting in their seats to get a good look. This was no debate between equals. He was a world-renown lawyer, a drafter of United Nations agreements, and he’d been teaching this class for years. I was an 18-year-old student, who had never had to defend the unborn before. I don’t recall the exact answer I gave, but I do remember how easily the prof slapped it aside. He made me feel foolish. More importantly, he made the pro-life position seem foolish. Let the teacher teach It used to be that this sort of on-the-spot inquisition would only happen if you signed up for something like a political science class. Nowadays we can expect hostile questioners in settings from the coffee shop to the workplace. Whether you proudly walk around wearing a pro-life shirt, or quietly decline having a rainbow flag decorate your cubicle, the world is going to want some answers. What we should offer are some good questions. The key here is to realize what the world is up to. They think we’re wrong and want to correct. They want to show us the error of our ways. They want to re-educate us. So we should let them try. The mistake I made with my university professor was when I let him swap his role for mine. He wanted me to teach the pro-life position to the class – he wanted me to take on the role of teacher. Now he’d had a few decades of experience, and maybe some hours of preparation to get ready for his lecture, but he expected me, on a moment’s notice, to be able to teach the class. How fair was that? And yet I accepted the role-reversal, gave it my best go, and failed miserably. But what if I had refused his job offer? What if, instead of trying to mount an on-the-spot defense of the unborn, I had simply asked the teacher to teach? “I’m just a student – I’m paying the big bucks to hear your thoughts. So what I’d like to know iswhy are you so sure the unborn aren’t precious human beings?”  You want me to teach? I decline. This is a great strategic move, but also a humble one. It’s strategic because asking questions is a lot easier than answering them. That’s why our kids – back when they could barely string a sentence together – could still stump us by simply asking one “But why?” question after another. It’s humble because in adopting this approach we’re not setting ourselves up as the ones with all the answers. As I recall it, my professor believed there was some gradual increase in the fetus’s worth as it grew bigger and became able to do more things. If he’d offered that as his explanation – the unborn isn’t worth as much as an adult because it can’t do as much – my follow-up would have been easy: “But why?” The Columbo Tactic Christian apologist Greg Koukl calls this the Columbo Tactic, naming it after the famous TV detective. Lieutenant Columbo, as he was played by actor Peter Falk, was a slow-talking, slow-walking, middle-aged man, perpetually unshaven, and as Koukl put it, who looked like he slept in his trench coat. His unassuming manner was the key to the detective’s success. He wasn’t aggressive. He wasn’t pointed. He only asked questions. "Just one more thing…" "There's something that bothers me…" "One more question…" “What I don’t understand is… As he followed up his quiet question with another and then another, the murderer’s story would fall to pieces, bit by bit. Columbo’s approach was meek, but also merciless. And the killers never saw it coming. Question the re-education This quiet questioning was put to masterful use by the director of the Family Policy Institute of Washington. Joseph Backholm headed down to the University of Washington campus to talk to students about gender identity. His position? Men are men and women are women. But rather than begin by sharing his own thought he asked others for theirs. His first question had to do with whether men should be able to use women’s washrooms, and the students agreed with one another that “whether you identify as a male or female and whether your sex at birth is matching to that, you should be able to utilize” whichever locker room you like. That when things got very interesting. Space doesn’t permit sharing all the students’ answers (and they were all quite similar) so we’ll focus on just one. Joseph Backholm: “If I told you that I was a woman what would your response be?” Enthusiastic girl: “Good for you. Okay! Like, yeah!” JB: “If I told you that I was Chinese what would your response be?” EG: “I mean I might be a little surprised, but I’d say, good for you! Yeah, be who you are!” The next question made our energetic girl pause. She wasn’t ready with a quick answer but after thinking it through she tried to maintain consistency. JB: “If I told you that I was seven years old, what would your response be?”EG: “If you feel seven at heart then, so be it, good for you!” JB: “If I wanted to enroll in a first-grade class, do you think I should be allowed to?” EG: “If that's where you feel mentally you should be…then I feel like there are communities that would accept you for that.” This final question stymied several other students…for a few moments. Then they too headed into the ridiculous, just to maintain consistency. JB: “If I told you I'm 6 feet 5 inches what would you say?” EG: “I feel like that's not my place, as another human, to say someone is wrong or to draw lines or boundaries.” As Backholm concluded: It shouldn't be hard to tell us 5’9” white guy that he's not a six foot five Chinese woman. But clearly it is. Why? What does that say about our culture? And what does that say about our ability to answer the questions that actually are difficult? The video was effective, funny, and popular – it’s been viewed well over a million and a half times already. (A Swedish version, in which a petite blond girls asks students whether she could be a two-meter tall seven-year-old Japanese male, has been viewed by another half million.)  Backhom took the students’ stand – that identity is whatever a person says it is – and exposed it as ridiculous by asking half dozen simple questions. But did the questions do anything to convince the students? After all, none of them seemed to change their mind. Well, most of them were giggling by the end – they couldn’t help but laugh at the bizarre stand they found themselves defending. Few of us are able to change our minds in a moment, even when all the facts are against us, so it’s no surprise these students didn’t do an on-camera about-face. However we have reason to hope that once they had time to reflect, they too may well have realized the enormous problem with their thinking. Beyond self-preservation How might this questioning approach work in our day to day? Let’s try it in an office setting. Imagine that your company has sponsored the local gay pride parade and the boss has handed out little pride flags so employees can decorate their cubicles. You decline. Shortly afterwards you find yourself summoned to the boss’s office. How can quiet questions be a help here? First, it’s important we first understand the goal we should have for this interchange. Unprepared we might conclude our objective is self-preservation – we want to save our job. That’s a good goal, but it shouldn’t be the goal – our primary goal, as the Westminster Shorter Catechism puts it, “is to glorify God, and enjoy Him forever.” As our country takes a perverse turn, we are going to start losing our jobs because of our beliefs and it won’t matter what we say or how we say it. When we’re called to explain ourselves, we need to realize there may be no God-glorifying way of preserving our job – the only options maybe to profess or deny. So we need to prepare ourselves to profess…regardless of what happens afterwards. Do you really believe what you say you believe? Still, saving our job can be a goal and questions can help here too. Your boss wants to know why you aren’t waving the rainbow flag? Ask him whether the company really believes what it says it believes. If they want to celebrate tolerance and diversity how about they do so starting with you? Boss: “Why don’t you have your flag out? You know we’re an inclusive company.” You: “Hey boss, as a Christian, and I have some views that differ with the company’s. I knew that might cause some problems but I also know that we’re a super inclusive company, so I was confident we could work something out. Sir, how can the company’s inclusiveness be applied to me? How is your non-judgmental, life-style-affirming, politically correct boss going to be able to answer this one without his head exploding? That’s for him to figure out. Conclusion A question isn’t the best response in every setting. Questions are very helpful in poking holes in other people’s incoherent worldviews – they’re good tools for demolishing lies – but when it comes to teaching people the truth, we need to do more than ask questions. We’ll need to share God’s Word, let our listener question us, and offer explanations. That’s how we should talk to anyone interested in an honest dialogue. But for all those shaking their fist at God, a good question may be the best response. We live in a time where every one of God’s standards is being attacked and it’s about time we were asking why. Picture is a screenshot from the Family Policy Institute of Washington’s video “College kids say the darndest things: On identity” posted to YouTube.com on April 13, 2016. This article first appeared in the June 2016 issue. If you want to know more about the Columbo Tactic you should pick up a copy of Greg Koukl's "Tactics" which we review here....

News

Saturday Selections - May 12, 2018

5 questions to ask a book before you read it Tim Challies lists 5 questions to "help you filter the few books you will read from the thousands you could read." Marvel's latest supervillain sounds like some respected scientists and doctors Thanos thinks death is preferable to a life of suffering. This is the same kind of thinking that motivated Alfie Evans' doctors. An "animal salad" of bones points to catastrophic demise A massive collection of fossils bones gives evidence of a massive flood. Some of the facts on transgenderism A new picture book by a transgender television star is reviewed by an endocrinologist who highlights the misinformation being pitched at kids. Greg Koukl on a powerful tactic for defense of our faith This spring Reformed Perspective brought Tim Barnett to congregations across Canada to teach "Tactics in Defense of our faith." His talk was based on a book, Tactics, by Stand to Reason president Greg Koukl and in this half hour video Koukl gives his own presentation of the very useful "Columbo Tactic." This is the first session, available for free, of a six-session set you can buy here. The Log Driver's Waltz A bit of nostalgic canadiana for Canucks 30 and over. ...

News

“Non-binary” fellow takes on feminist law

In mid March news broke of yet another “first,” this time in an Oregon county where Venn Sage Wylde, a “non-binary candidate” – a man who doesn’t want to be identified as a male or female – is running for the position of “Precinct Committee Person.” The interesting wrinkle here is that, by state law, these positions are to be filled with an equal number of men and women. Why? This type of law is typically meant to increase the participation of women in politics and based on a feminist ideology that declares women and men to be identical, both in interests and abilities. So the lower number of women in politics is understood as being irrefutable proof of discrimination – what other explanation could there be? – which such a law is then brought in to correct. Of course, this sort of feminist thinking ignores the possibility that men and women might actually be different. It denies that God, in making us male and female, gave us different roles, and different abilities, and might even have given us different priorities. Could it be that more women than men find politics noxious and unattractive? Feminists deny that’s even a possibility. However, there is one gender difference feminists will tout: they say women are uniquely oppressed. So, again, that’s why we need “corrective” laws like this one. But what happens when a feminist law is protested by a “non-binary” fellow? Venn Sage Wylde has previously been elected a “Precinct Committee Man,” but earlier this year he went to the courts and had the State officially affirm his non-binary claim. Then, when he decided to run for a “gendered” position, that left the State with a problem. However, it turns out Multnomah County is nothing if not quick to appease. They immediately granted Wylde his wish and created a ballot with three offices: Precinct Committee Man Precinct Committee Woman Precinct Committee Person What’s unclear is how this can possibly work. Originally there was supposed to be one man and one woman elected for every 500 electors. Is there now going to be one man, one woman, and one “person” for every 500? Is this 50/50 split going to now be a 33/33/33 division? And how are they going to deal with the fact that while there are roughly as many women as men in the world, there are nowhere near as many folks claiming to be non-binary? There’s only one possible way forward: Oregon is going to be forced to eliminate their gender-based requirements. When that happens, it’ll mean that God has used a “non-binary” fellow to frustrate feminists’ ambitions; He’ll have used one rebel to correct another....

News

Feminists vs. transgenders? Why the Left is turning on itself.

In Judges 7 Israel is faced with a fearsome foe, and God decides to use that foe's strength against it. Gideon and his 300 get to watch as "the Lord set the sword of one against another even throughout the whole army." Might God have something similar in mind for today's liberal Left? Consider the case of Gabrielle Bouchard. This past December, Bouchard made news, and drew the ire of a small number of vocal feminists, when he became head of Québec’s largest feminist group. Bouchard is a man who identifies as a woman, and the group he now heads, the Fédération des Femmes du Québec (FFQ) has the typical feminist stands: abortion is good, capitalism is exploitive, the patriarchy is evil. It's on this last point – men running too much of the world - that the FFQ is getting attacked. Diane Guilbault, the head of a rival feminist group, told the National Post that she doesn't appreciate a man being in charge of a feminist group because:  “the experience of a woman who is born a woman is completely different from the experience of a man who decides one day to present himself as a woman.” While the protest against Bouchard has been limited, it has garnered some favorable coverage from a mainstream press that isn’t sure which side they should pick when one leftwing group takes on another. A month earlier a similar sort of conflict occurred south of the border. An American white man, Ja Du, publicly identified as a Filipina woman and the mainstream press didn’t know how to handle that either. The liberal Huffington Post decided to accept he was a woman, but wasn’t yet ready to do the same for his transracial claims. Their headline read: “Filipinos aren’t happy with this white woman claiming to be a Filipina.” Their hesitancy is puzzling: once you grant a man can become a woman, what logic prevents us from acknowledging a white man can become an Asian woman? Why is that a bigger leap? Of course we knew it wasn't going to be long before "transracialism" was going to be embraced too, and this past week the National Post's Barbara Kay reported that the State of Delaware is going to allow students to self-identify not only their gender, but their race too. But the more the Left embraces this craziness, the sooner the infighting is going to get serious. The conflicts we see here – one feminist group vs. the transgender head of another, and the liberal media picking transgenders over transracials – might not seem to matter. But the problems these groups have with one another are only going to grow. Why? Because at their core, feminist, transgender, and transracial views contradict. And it's only a matter of time before these unnatural allies turn on one another. Are the differences real or not? The divide between feminists and transgenders comes down to how each answers this question: are the differences between the sexes real? The typical feminist is going to answer with a "no." They'll acknowledge reproductive differences only because those are impossible to overlook. But when asked why there are far fewer female CEOs, or why the overall average wage for women is lower than that for men, the standard feminist line attributes the difference to discrimination. It is most certainly not a result of men and women having different interests, or different strengths and capabilities – after all, anything a man can do a woman can do too! To put it another way, the predominant feminist take is that the differences between men and women are only outward and insignificant - we look different, but we aren't actually different. Meanwhile when a man like Gabrielle Bouchard claims that, despite how he looks, he feels like a woman then he is, unavoidably, attacking the feminist position. After all, he's implying that there is something, outside of the outward appearance, that makes a woman different than a man. In making his claim to be the other gender, Bouchard is acknowledging that there are differences between the genders that are both real and significant. What exactly those differences are, isn't generally discussed. That's where Christians need to press the issue and ask: what does it mean to feel like a woman? What does that feeling involve? Imagine if a man said he knew he was actually a woman because he felt more sensitive and emotional, liked dresses and the color pink, and felt so very nurturing. What would feminists think of that? It doesn't really matter what differences a transgender might point to, feminists are going to either deny the differences are real, or that they are important. So we can see the rupture already starting. We can tear it wide open if we press that question: what exactly does being female or male mean? Are the groups fixed or not? When it comes to transracialism, it might seem surprising that even a liberal-leaning publication like the Huffington Post is slow to embrace the idea. Why would any on the Left have a problem with accepting that a person can swap ethnic identities? Maybe it's because, on some level, the Left understands that transracialism (along with transgenderism) undermines identity politics: minority groups pressing for preferential treatment to compensate for past wrongs (real or supposed) done to their group. After all, what happens to identity politics when it becomes possible to switch groups? What happens to demands for preferential treatment when a white man can be acknowledged as black and female? What happens to hiring quotas when an applicant can choose to identify as whatever combination of special identities a company is looking to check off? It becomes hard to pit one group against another when the lines between them are being erased. The tipping point Christians might be discouraged at just how fast our culture is embracing ideas that, only a few short years ago, would have been dismissed as crazy by just about everyone. But there is a bright side to the speed at which the Left is adopting one incoherent idea after another: the more craziness they stack on their shaky foundation, the sooner the whole mess is going to tip over. We can hasten that tipping point by asking questions that highlight that incoherence, like: Are the differences between the genders real and significant? What does it mean to feel like a woman, or feel like a man? What does it mean to be of a different race? And if I can be a different race, can I be a different age? Or a different height? How about a different weight? Or socio-economic status? Why, or why not? We can also point our culture to the one worldview that's built on a firm foundation. We can begin by teaching them that God made us male and female, and that can't be changed (though our feelings about our gender can be). We can share that gender-based differences do exist and they are significant, but they aren't scary, and don't have to be ignored or diminished. We can explain that acknowledging men are physically stronger than women isn't an attack on women's worth, because our worth doesn't come from our muscle size, or any other ability. We can point out that there is only one way in which we are all equal, and so, only one basis for any claim to equality: we are all made in God's image. We can clarify that while there are all sorts of ethnicities and cultures, there is just one race – the human race – and the denial of that truth has led to untold discrimination and persecution. And we can explain that the reason this all makes sense in a way that their secular worldview just doesn't, is because it is God's truth, and it is trustworthy because He is. Ryan T. Anderson has a similar, longer take, titled "Transgender ideology is riddled with contradictions. Here are the big ones." available here....

Sexuality

The transgender debate isn't about washrooms

Or, how to argue like a Christian Here’s the scenario: there’s a fellow in front of you wearing a little black dress. And he wants to know your thoughts on the transgender debate. You’re considering two possible answers. 1) “This is a debate about what feelings can and can’t do. God says He determines our gender (Gen. 1:27, 5:2, Matt. 19:4, Mark 10:6) but now many people are saying that it’s our feelings that do that. Do feelings have that power? I don’t think so. What we know about our feelings is that they often run counter to reality. We can feel attracted to people we know wouldn’t be good for us. We can feel pulled to do things we know we shouldn’t, or to put off things we need to get done. Sometimes scarily thin girls can feel fat, and bullied boys can feel worthless. We can feel angry when we have no reason to be, or feel happy when the more appropriate response would really be shame or regret. In everyday life our feelings can, so often, prove to be a horrible guide for us. Our feelings don’t shape reality, so we need to shape our feelings and emotions to conform to the world as it is. And that’s what God tells us when it comes to gender too (Deut. 22:5). He chose our gender, and we have to shape our feelings to fit that reality.” 2) “We’re worried that some guys will pretend to be transsexual just so they can get access to the women’s washroom. So, for the sake of the women and children, we can’t let biological males use women’s washrooms. It’s a matter of safety.” Which answer do you choose? Most Christians seem to be going with the second answer. It’s not without controversy – Red Sox legend Curt Schilling got fired from his ESPN job for arguing this point – but it’s nowhere near as controversial as the first. The second also has some clear advantages. It is shorter, and when it’s important to say things just so, brief is better. And it focuses on the safety of women and children, which is a hard point to object to. But it doesn’t mention the Bible or God. Some might think that another advantage. After all, our country has rejected God, so they don’t care what He says. If we bring up God, aren’t we just setting ourselves up to be ignored? Wouldn’t it be better to present neutral/secular arguments, to increase the odds that we’ll be heard? Secular arguments can’t stand on their own The short answer is, no. The longer answer is “Nooooooooooo!” Secular arguments might be less controversial, but they have no foundation. They are based on a worldview that is insubstantial. Thus there is a very practical objection to relying on them: they can’t stand on their own. Already, we can see the shaky nature of secular arguments in our bathroom debates. The US department store Target was hit with a one-million-signature petition protesting their decision to let transgender customers use the washroom of their choice. But as one commentator noted, the vast majority of Target stores have single-stall family restrooms. If we’re worried about the safety of our wife, or our children, then all we need to do is use these single-stall facilities. A gay legislator from Alabama took down the safety argument a different way. Patricia Todd noted that most sexual assaults occur “…in locations where children gather, school, church, parks, etc…. So if you really want to protect your children from child predators, don't take them to school, public parks, church or allow them to play sports or use the Internet.” We can also predict that if we keep talking about safety the other side is going to counter with safety concerns of their own. They are going to start sharing stories about dress-wearing guys who got harassed in the men’s washroom. Or, rather, we’re going to hear stories about dress-wearing boys, and crewcut girls who were hassled. If we’re all about safety, then what about these children’s safety? Canada’s recent past provides an even better example of the shortcomings of the purely secular argument. During our country’s gay “marriage” debate I did a presentation in one of our churches and asked the audience to list all the best arguments for our side. We came up with a half dozen or so, and some in the crowd seemed to get worried when I rebutted all but one of them. The reason I could do that is because all but one of them were based on secular reasoning. I could slap them down as quickly as they were raised because they were all built on this quivering, crumbling secular foundation. “Marriage has been this way for thousands of years.” “Slavery was in vogue for millennia; does that mean it was right? Some traditions need to be abandoned.” “Most Canadians are against changing it.” “Sometimes the majority can be wrong. And besides, will you support gay marriage if/when the majority approves?” “We shouldn’t let judges force this on us.” “So if we vote it in you’ll be fine with it?” Christians rose to the defense of tradition, and democracy, and stood against judicial activism, but how often did we speak about God’s perspective? Not very. So we lost. And we lost, in part, because the arguments we were relying on simply didn’t measure up. They couldn’t stand on their own. Secular arguments miss the point But there is a still bigger problem: secular arguments don’t fight the battle that really needs to be fought. When a big culture-wide kerfuffle erupts we need to see this for what it really is. Christians need to ask: “What part of God’s truth is being attacked this time?” We have to understand we’re in a war, and the other side’s objective is always to attack God’s people, His Word, and His Truth. So yes, safety is a concern in the transgender debate, but that’s not what the battle is really about. This bathroom ruckus is only a distraction – it’s the enemy trying to get us to direct out attention to the symptom rather than the disease. What they’re coming after – what they want to overthrow – is Genesis 1:27b: “male and female He created them.” Safety is a concern. We’re already hearing in the news about sick guys taking advantage of these policies to head into women’s washrooms, to peep, or take pictures, or expose themselves. It’s predictable. It’s ridiculous. But what’s the cause of this craziness? God says He made us male and female, and the other side says, “No, we can create our own genders – God lied.” That’s the real fight. That’s the truth they are attacking, so that’s the truth we need to defend. Christian arguments have a firm foundation So how do we get at it? We begin with God. We lead with Him and His truth. The world doesn’t want to hear about Him, but He’s what they need. Canada’s gay “marriage” debate provides a good example of how a good Christian defense can look. During the 2004 election a Christian Heritage Party candidate I was working with gave his riding a solid Christian defense of marriage. Ed Spronk sent a brochure to every household that presented God as the Standard-Maker. Spronk explained that if we abandoned God’s standard for marriage then soon enough we would be left with no standard at all. He then shared news items from around the world to show how this was already happening, with people marrying multiple spouses, marrying objects, and even marrying themselves. Spronk didn’t win the election, but he was heard – his brochure was the talk of the riding. The structure of his argument went like this: Here’s what God says on this matter. What God says is true, so we’ll see supporting evidence in the world. Here’s some of that evidence. A few of the illustrations he presented were the exact news items other Christians were using as standalone secular arguments. For instance, many were pointing to the woman who married herself as an example of what would happen next if we let gay “marriage” happen. But the response to this as a standalone argument was mixture of apathy and disbelief: “Who cares?” and, “It will never happen.” Once again the secular argument couldn’t stand on its own. Spronk used this same incident, with a difference: he placed it on the firm foundation of God’s truth. He started by explaining that it’s God Who defines what marriage is and isn’t. Then Spronk used this self-marrying single lady as an example of the craziness that ensues when we deny God’s standards for marriage. It supported his main point, but it wasn’t his point. It was simply one bit of supportive evidence and his core argument – his explicitly Christian argument – would continue to stand with or without it. In the transgender debate I began this article began with two possible answers. The first might not look all that similar to Ed Spronk’s traditional marriage defense, but it actually has the same basic structure. Sproink's and this first answer are both built on an explicitly Christian foundation, and both then stack supporting evidence on top of that Christian foundation. This is how that first answer looks like broken down: Here’s what God says on this matter: your feelings can’t determine your gender; I do. What God says is true so we’ll see supporting evidence in the world. Here’s some of that evidence: examples of when our feelings have run counter to reality, without ever changing it. This is what a good Christian argument looks like. We need more like this. Does that mean we have to abandon our bathroom arguments altogether? No, but we need to place them on a Christian foundation. That’s the key. They don’t stand on their own, but they can work well as supportive evidence for God’s truth. Here’s how that might look in a letter to your local paper: Dear editor, I’m writing regarding the recent article series you had on children who say they are transgender and want access to surgeries and puberty suppressing drugs. As a Christian I know all of humanity is made in God’s image, so that means we are all worthy of respect. That, of course, includes people who identify as transgendered. That is why I cannot go along with cultural move to treat gender as something that is subjective, tied to how someone feels, rather than an objective reality. Our gender is not something that our feelings can change; feelings don’t have that power. Our gender is determined for us, by God, and is written into us right down to our DNA. And if we won’t recognize that men are men and women are women and the two can’t switch places, then all sorts of craziness will ensue. Craziness will happen because craziness always does when we reject reality. We will see: Peeping Toms claiming to be women to gain access to women’s washrooms High school boys showering with high school girls * Perverts of various sorts taking full advantage Men applying for spots in women’s dormitories A demand for women’s sanitary bins in male toilets “for men who menstruate” * A demand for urinals in women’s washrooms Men competing on women’s sports teams * Men obliterating the women’s records in weightlifting, shot-put, high jump, etc. and etc. Men winning “Women of the Year” awards * Men attending women’s colleges * Sexually abused women feeling unsafe in all public washrooms Women cutting off their breasts and men cutting off their penises Children being given high doses of hormones to suppress their normal maturation There will also be others who will extend this same “I am whatever I feel like I am” logic to other areas including age and race (this is already happening) and maybe even height and species (and, yes, this is also already happening). We need to reject that idea that our feelings can remake reality. I respectfully ask you to stand firm against the notion that “wishing does make it so.” Yours, in God’s service, Jon Dykstra Here the bathroom argument serves as just one bit of supportive evidence for our overall argument that God determines our gender, not our feelings (and if we reject God’s sovereignty over gender, then craziness will ensue). The structure is again the same as we saw with Ed Spronk: our foundation is what God says on the matter, and then because we know that what God says is true, we are able to find supportive evidence in the world around, so we share some of those examples. Conclusion  When we present God’s truth to an audience we don’t need to hit them with a sermon – we can be brief. But God’s truth needs to be our foundation. The battle we’re in isn’t about bathrooms. It’s about God, and how He determines our gender, and all of reality. That’s the truth that’s under assault, so that’s the truth we are called to defend. May the Lord grant us the courage to fight where the battle rages....

Apologetics 101

Princeton scientists announce discovery of “sex chromosome”

Earlier this month, scientists at Princeton University published findings which could forever change the way we think about biological sex. Until now, it had been assumed that the sex of a person was determined by how a person felt. But now researchers believe that may not be so. According to the scientist leading the research, Professor Duncan Forth, the unexpected discovery came after months of painstaking work studying human cells: “We had been looking into the chromosomal structure of cells, when – quite by accident – we realized that there was a difference between one of the pairs. In some of the cells we were studying, both chromosomes were shaped like an ‘X’, but in others, only one of the pairs was shaped like this. The second chromosome was much smaller. We decided to label it ‘Y.’” The research became controversial when to Professor Forth’s surprise, one link became immediately apparent: “When we ran various tests to see which characteristics the ‘XX’ or ‘XY’ combinations correlated with, we were all amazed to see that again and again where there was an ‘XX,’ the person from which it was taken was a female, and where there was an ‘XY,’ the cells had been taken from a male.” Aware of the ramifications of the discovery, the professor nervously explained how the findings, if verified, could completely alter the way we think about biological sex and the terms male and female: “The implications would seem to be that a person is either ‘born female’ or ‘born male,’ and that their feelings actually have little or no impact. But I really can’t stress highly enough that our sample size was small, and further research could show that there is no hard and fast correlation across the population as a whole.” However, further research may not even be possible, as both the students and the university administration are expressing concerns about how the study was ever given funding in the first place. As one 2nd year biology student put it: “This place is supposed to be a place of tolerance and respect. Yet they’re funding research which is causing a lot of people pain and hurt. A lot of pain and hurt.” Others broke down in tears as they talked about what this research could mean for them if allowed to continue. One particularly distraught post-graduate sociology student wept as they opened up: “All my life I’ve been told that I can do what I want to do and be who I want to be. And that nobody has the right to deny me my rights. I truly do believe that. It’s up to me to decide whether I want to be male or female, or neither, or both. And no hate-filled pseudo-scientist or their so-called chromosomal research will ever change that.” The university’s antifascist movement has threatened to take action unless the research is stopped, the scientists sacked, and a statement issued repudiating the findings. The group’s leader was interviewed in the University Safe Space, where he was taking a break between lectures to browse through a baseball equipment catalogue. Wearing a black balaclava to protect his identity, he said the group would not tolerate the situation any longer: “There’s no way we’re going to sit by and let them get away with this vile hate in the name of science.  This kind of genetic determinism is scarily like what the Nazis thought. And if they think we’re going to tolerate Nazism in our university in 2017, they’ve got another think coming.” The controversy has also gone well beyond the university itself, with social media users lining up to condemn what they’re calling “hate research.” A barrage of criticism has been unleashed on Twitter, including: [email protected]: How dare you try to force objective reality over my feelings!!! #NoToChromosomes @Princeton bigots dare 2 tell us we can’t be who we want 2 be. #Chromofascists Rob Slane is the author of A Christian and Unbeliever discuss Life, the Universe, and Everything. No actual scientists were harmed in the crafting of this satire....

News

Have the MTV Awards set the stage for a transgender/feminist throw down?

At this year’s MTV Movie and TV Awards, actress Emma Watson was the proud recipient of what she called the “first acting award in history that doesn’t separate nominees based on their sex.” Instead of the usual best actor and best actress divisions, MTV decided to have one mixed-gender category. This seemed to be a response to the actions of actress Asia Kate Dilon, who self-identifies as “non-binary” – she claims to be neither male nor female. She made headlines when she was considered for an Emmy award, and didn’t want to be placed in either the actress or actor category…though she eventually settled on actor, noting that “actor” can mean male or female. When MTV decided to do away with their own gendered acting categories, they asked Asia Kate Dilon to make the award presentation for their new, supposedly more inclusive, award. Her presence on stage underscored that MTV’s change was done for the wrong reasons – this was intended as a fist, shaken at God and his binary creation. But just as no one is perfect, not even MTV can manage to always be wrong. Even in the midst of their rebellion they may have hit on something sensible. Why do we need separate acting categories for men and women? It makes sense in sports, where gender-based differences in muscle mass mean men competing against women wouldn't be a fair competition. But as Arnold Schwarzenegger has shown throughout his cinematic career, more muscles don't make you a better actor. So why the separate acting categories? The Oscars have "non-acting" categories like Best Director and Best Cinematography that aren't divided by gender. And even before MTV did it, another group, the Television Critics Association (TCA), already handed out acting awards without gendered categories. But here's where the problems pop up. Asia Kate Dilon is attacking the binary nature of gender. Feminists, however, believe the two genders do exist, and the difference matters. While feminists don't acknowledged gender-based differences in abilities, or interests, or in roles they do believe the two genders differ in how they are treated. Feminists believe that the only accounting for why there are fewer female than male engineers, or fewer female than male Best Director winners is oppression. So every year again, when the Oscar nominations come out, a story will be done about how only one of the 91 Best Director Oscars has gone to a woman. An Atlantic article on the MTV awards noted that of the 20 drama acting awards given out by the Television Critics Association 15 have gone to men. And 13 out of 20 comedy acting awards have also gone to men. Feminists are keeping track. So what happens when feminists who demand equal outcomes for the two genders run up against transgender activists like Asia Kate Dilon, who want to dismantle the two gender? Which oppressed minority gets the win? Sure, this year they managed to get along. But what if, instead of Emma Watson, a man had won the MTV Awards' "first acting award in history that doesn’t separate nominees based on their sex”? Would it have still been seen as a triumph of inclusivity? Or would it be seen as evidence of gender-based discrimination? The truce can't last.   Picture credit: JStone/Shutterstock ...

Sexuality

3 problems with transgender surgeries

This summer Pullman Regional Hospital in eastern Washington State announced they might offer transgender surgeries and asked the public for feedback. They got hundreds of responses. On the one side there was the editorial staff of The Daily Evergreen, a student paper at the nearby Washington State University. In a June 14 editorial they argued for the surgeries, but against the public consultation. “The public is not qualified to make decisions on a ‘very complex procedure’….These decisions should be left to trained medical professionals and based on the availability of resources and the needs of the patient.” Among those on the other side was Christ Church pastor Douglas Wilson. In an open letter also posted to his church website he explained the Christian position in a manner so clear it’s of benefit to both Christians and non-Christians alike. Three problems These surgeries, he wrote, would be, “misguided, unethical, and wrong” and involve “complexities that we are manifestly not prepared for.” 1) Objective vs. subjective First, the surgery involves the removal of “a perfectly healthy functional organ, doing so in an irreversible way.” It is “objective damage for the sake of a subjective desire.” What happens if the patient’s feelings change? Such subjective feelings do. But meanwhile the objective damage can’t be undone. 2) Genital mutilation only for some? If parents can request this surgery for a son or daughter, how would the hospital respond, Wilson asks, if a couple from the Middle East brought their daughter in for a clitectomy? This is more commonly called “female circumcision” but it bears no resemblance to male circumcision; it isn’t simply a snip of skin that is cut, but a good portion of a woman’s external genitals that are removed. It is often done for the specific purpose of reducing or eliminating a woman’s pleasure during sex. “If you refuse because it is ‘genital mutilation,’ how would you justify this refusal? ….Why is Pullman Regional endorsing the subjective reasoning of someone who is sexually confused while rejecting the subjective reasoning of a culture that is sexually repressed?” 3) Amputation only for some? And what if someone were to ask for the amputation of an arm or leg? This is already happening – there is a group who called themselves “transabled” and though they are able-bodied, they “identify” as being amputees and want the assistance of doctors to cut off limbs, or perhaps become blind. Wilson asks: “If you are willing to remove healthy organs or limbs for some patients but not others, what standard are you using to discount one subjective preference while endorsing another?” And in a letter full of memorable illustrations there is one that stands out: “Would you be willing to supply the music department with castrati?” Wilson is referring to boys who, in centuries past, were castrated so as to prevent them going through puberty and to preserve their pre-pubescent voices. “It is easy to retort with an indignant ‘of course not!’ But why not? ….It seems bizarre to us that there was a time when choral music had such a high value that they were willing to sacrifice sex organs for the sake of purity of voice….. And in just the same way, subsequent generations will stare at us in disbelief…. We want to cater to a profound emotional, psychological, and spiritual confusion. Conclusion A non-Christian might be able to offer up many of these same arguments, but they couldn’t do so while glorifying God. That’s a final lesson we can learn from Wilson's letter. When God’s truth is denied – when a biblical doctrine the likes of “God made them male and female (Mark 10:6) is attacked – then let us sally forth to defend it as Christians. And Wilson does, making it clear that his insight on this issue comes straight from God’s Word. You can read his letter (and it is well worth a read) here....

Sexuality

Transgenderism 101: Share the truth with compassion

Transgenderism is the latest political cause du jour, dominating media headlines, saturating academic deliberation, the subject of new laws and radical educational policies across the country. Lost in the debate, from either side, are the kids themselves. It is important that, in so far as we are able, we ensure our part in this debate isn’t confused as being an attack on the dignity of individuals genuinely struggling with gender identity disorder. As psychologist Dr. Mark Yarhouse notes, in his 30 years of counseling patients struggling with gender identity, most who come into his office are not seeking to tear down the “social constructs” of maleness or femaleness. They are simply looking for help as they navigate these very troubled waters in these times of social change. Today people who believe they were born the wrong gender are being encouraged by the intellectual elite in media, politics and academia to embrace that notion and run with it. That might mean they start identifying as the other gender, or it might mean undergoing surgery to try to resemble the other gender. This must be strongly opposed. Why should Christians oppose it? Because we know it will hurt people! As one Canadian Reformed pastor said at a recent political rally, these new policies require us to love less. They silence genuine concern for transgendered kids, while advocating a celebration of an ideology that, by any measure of science and common sense, will do irreparable harm. What is transgenderism? The term “transgendered” is an umbrella term for the different ways in which some people might experience or express their gender – their maleness or femaleness – differently from people whose gender matches their biological sex. Put another way, transgenderism describes the experiences or expressions of a small proportion of the population who say there is a difference between their mind and their body when it comes to the question of whether they are male or female. One of the debates within the social sciences today revolves around the question of whether we should bring the body into conformity with the mind (via hormone injections, male genitalia removal, breast augmentation, or other surgery) or bring the mind into conformity with the body (via counseling). Perhaps the group that captures the most attention today are those who struggle with gender identity disorder, also known as gender dysphoria, a psychological phenomenon. We might hear them say something like, “I’m a woman trapped in a man’s body” or vice versa. According to the revised language of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition (the DSM‑5), gender dysphoria refers to the distress that may accompany the incongruence between one’s experienced or expressed gender and one’s assigned gender. Gender dysphoria is a rare ailment: according to the same manual, it manifests in only 0.005% - 0.014% of adult men and 0.002% - 0.003% of adult women. However, we can expect those numbers to increase dramatically as the popularity of the phenomenon increases with the fawning media coverage of transgender celebrities like Bruce/Caitlyn Jenner and the gender-bending behaviors of Jaden Smith (the son of actor Will Smith who “challenges gender stereotypes” by regularly wearing dresses and make-up, etc.). The celebration and indoctrination happening more and more in elementary schools across the country only exasperates the problem. A somewhat related but separate condition happens when, due to genes, hormones, or body structures that differ from the norm, a child may have an “intersex condition” (in older literature, “hermaphrodites”). This could make it difficult to identify a child’s gender at birth – we live in a fallen world, and one of the results of that brokenness is that some people are born with malformed genitalia. This is not, however, what we’re talking about with transgenderism. An intersexed condition is a biological disorder, and should be distinguished from a transgendered person’s gender dysphoria, which is a psychological disorder. It is important to note that most intersex people are not lobbying to pass as the other sex or as a third sex, but are simply seeking to discover to which sex they belong. Their biological sex identification can typically be discovered through a chromosomal or blood test. Truth with grace We know from the creation story (see Gen. 1:27 and 2:18) that God created humankind in his image (imago dei) and that the wonderful mystery of that design includes the binary reality of the sexes: we are made either male and female. That means a woman’s femaleness reflects something of the image of God, and that a man’s maleness reflects something of the image of God. The binary nature of humanity is implicitly confirmed in the words of Jesus in his discussions on marriage (see Matt. 19:4 and Mark 10:6) and in Paul’s directions to the new Christians in Corinth and Ephesus and to Timothy on the distinct responsibilities and natures of men and women. (See, for example, 1 Cor. 11:7-9; Eph. 5:22-33; 1 Tim. 2:12-14.) To mar or to diminish the masculine and feminine diminishes our God-given identity as males or females. Both reflect the glory of God. This is probably why God forbade cross-dressing in Deuteronomy 22:5. This prohibition goes beyond whether boys can wear dresses (the clothing of men at the time of the exodus from Egypt probably resembled something more akin to modern female clothing today). The point is not the article of clothing per se; it’s the intentional diminishing or obscuring of masculine or feminine differences, which is an assault on our design. It should be unsurprising that the sciences confirm this binary reality. With the exception of a few simple organisms, all creatures (including humans) are marked by a fundamental binary sexual differentiation: male or female markers are imprinted on every one of their trillions of cells. The testimony of biology, chromosomal data, and social-scientific evidence all confirm the essential biological binary of the sexes. (For more on this point, see my book review of Why Gender Matters.) But the Bible does not only speak to the issue of gender confusion, it also speaks to how we should relate and communicate on this issue. The Bible reminds us that gentle answers turn away wrath, but harsh words stir up anger (Prov. 15:1) and that “gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body” (Prov. 16:24). Jesus Christ fulfills this in his ministry and example. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God… And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:1,14). Randy Alcorn calls this pairing of grace with truth a paradox, and one Christians must emulate: our speaking and relating and communing on this issue of transgenderism must be characterized by grace and truth. Where truth is conveyed without love, it is nothing but noise (1 Cor. 13:1). The truth needs love, and the truth communicated in love will be kind, patient, and will not be rude, irritable or boastful. (1 Cor. 13:4,5). But love also “rejoices in the truth” (1 Cor. 1:6) meaning that we cannot let our instinctive compassion run unfettered because that will end up hurting, not helping. Having established this foundation, let’s examine some of the science and policy surrounding this phenomenon. When helping hurts – medical testimony Celebration of transgenderism is seen by some as the best way to assist transgender individuals. There is no evidence, however, that the negative outcomes associated with transgender identification – including higher rates of suicide and attempted suicide, overall mortality, and need for psychiatric inpatient care – are alleviated by accepting and encouraging alternative gender identities in those with gender identity issues. The theory behind this celebratory approach to transgenderism is not scientific – it is political. Gender dysphoria is a psychological phenomenon. Gender fluidity – the idea that we can shift from one gender to another – is a concept that is socially constructed and normalizes gender dysphoria, and thereby impedes its diagnosis and treatment. To leave the dysphoria untreated is to leave struggling individuals without help, and to ignore experienced researchers in this field. Johns Hopkins Hospital was one of the first institutions in the United States to perform so-called “sex change” operations. Dr. Paul McHugh, the chief psychiatrist there in the late 1970s, commissioned a study of the sex change program. Its authors found that In a thousand subtle ways, the re-assignee has the bitter experience that he is not – and never will be – a real girl but is, at best, a convincing simulated female. Such an adjustment cannot compensate for the tragedy of having lost all chance to be male, and of having in the final analysis, no way to be really female. Some 40 years later, Dr. Sander Breiner concurs, explaining that she and her colleagues had to tell the surgeons that “the disturbed body image was not an organic at all, but was strictly a psychological problem. It could not be solved by organic manipulation (surgery, hormones)”. Many Canadian experts in the field of psychiatry, including those who regularly work with transgendered youth, have grave concerns about the politicization of this psychiatric issue. Toronto psychiatrist Dr. Joseph Berger says that some transsexuals “have claimed that they are ‘a woman trapped in a man’s body’ or . Scientifically, there is no such thing.” Dr. Ken Zucker sees the political approach to gender identity and fluidity as unsound. And Dr. Susan Bradley considers the political moves of some activists “disgraceful.” Dr. Paul McHugh, cited above, points out, “This is a disorder of the mind. Not a disorder of the body.” Canadian policy makers should take these warnings to heart. Apotemnophilia: a comparison Apotemnophilia is a neurological disorder characterized by an individual’s intense and long-standing desire for the amputation of a specific limb. It is a type of Body Integrity Identity Disorder (BIID). Some with this condition look for surgeons willing to perform an amputation of a healthy limb and some apotemnophiles have purposefully injured limbs in order to force emergency medical amputation. In 1997, Scottish doctor Robert Smith was performing these amputations before a public outcry brought them to a halt. What would the compassionate option be: to accommodate the person’s self-perception by amputating healthy limbs as Dr. Smith did, or to treat the psychological condition itself? The comparisons between gender identity disorder, anorexia, apotemnophilia and other similar conditions are clear. As Dr. McHugh says, It is not obvious how this patient’s feeling that he is a woman trapped in a man’s body differs from the feeling of a patient with anorexia that she is obese despite her emaciated, gaunt state. We don’t do liposuction on anorexics. Why amputate the genitals of these poor men? What ought we to do as a compassionate society? Alleviating the psychic distress of transgendered individuals requires nuanced answers. We hear about the high rates of suicide among the transgendered. Well, if we want to address this, we must distinguish between suicides that result from rejection by family, isolation, bullying, etc., (all of which are unacceptable) and suicides where psychiatric care is offered that seeks to resolve the dysphoria in keeping with their birth sex. This is not to say that bullying, rejection by family, isolation, etc., are not an issue for transgender people. They can be, and that type of behavior must be corrected. But the reality is that family rejection, isolation and bullying increase suicide risks for all youth, not just transgender youth. The unfortunate politicization of this issue results in the condemning of anything less than full affirmation, reinforcement and celebration of the gender incongruence in transgender youth, a “solution” that compounds the problem. Where family and community walk alongside a transgender individual with love and compassion, all with the goal of resolving the dysphoria in keeping with the patient’s birth sex as much as possible, we predict the suicide rates will dramatically decrease, particularly because other coexisting issues can also be properly treated. The way we frame our approach to this issue is of the utmost importance. A compassionate society must recognize the mental illness dimensions of gender identity disorder and reject the dangerous and unhealthy human experimentation of hormone treatments and surgical amputations and modification. A compassionate society gives space for expression of struggles and helps to answer the questions “who am I?” and “where do I belong?” without deconstructing gender. And a compassionate society affirms the inherent dignity and intrinsic value of every human being as either male or female, including those who struggle with confusion regarding their sexuality and gender. Recommendations In terms of scientific and social research, the field of gender identity is still relatively new. Unfortunately, when the State attempts a radically new policy response to transgenderism, it becomes an agent of forced social and cultural change without any standard or criterion of success, and without clearly understanding the possible outcomes. Take just one example that illustrates this concern: in an effort to accommodate transgendered children, the provincial government in Alberta wants every school to work towards eliminating gender differences not only in the classroom, but even on sports teams and in change rooms. This is not the well-reasoned, scientifically-based public policy we should expect of our representatives. Here are a few suggestions for better public policy as it relates to protecting transgendered youth and enhancing social and public policy. State actors must cease to use the phrase “sex assigned at birth” and maintain the scientifically accurate term “sex.” Sex is a biological reality. It is not assigned. To use the language of “assigned” instils a flawed assumption that any incongruence is a biological error, rather than a psychological Provinces must ban all gender reassignment surgery on children before the age of 18. Further, in light of the fact that those who have had sex reassignment surgery have higher rates of attempted suicide, surgical transition should be abandoned as a treatment option even for adults. Provinces must ban all cross-gender hormone treatment on children, including puberty suppressants, due to unacceptably high risks of depression, suicide and sterility. To chemically alter the natural and healthy development of a child with such incredible risks before the child can give their own informed consent is nothing short of child abuse. The State must provide ample room for civil society to respond to this issue. Parents, the medical profession, churches and other community groups must have the freedom to address gender dysphoria in their families and communities without threat of enforced ideological conformity by the State. Provinces must abandon laws that make gender reinforcement illegal. Such laws violate children’s rights and doctors’ conscience rights and interfere with parental decisions regarding the best interests of their children. For example, Ontario’s Bill 77 – which amended the Health Insurance Act and the Regulated Health Professions Act to prohibit services that seek to change the sexual orientation or the gender identity of patients – should be repealed. This law, and others like it, promote an ideological blindness at odds with the best interests of the patient. The terms “gender identity” and “gender expression” should be removed from law because the terms are based on subjective perceptions and cannot be objectively evaluated or measured. There is no consistent policy reason to protect transgenderism, but not protect trans-racism, trans-ageism, trans-ableism, or even trans-speciesism (all of which have manifested in recent years). Further, laws that add the terms “gender identity” and “gender expression” as protected grounds of discrimination such as those passed in Ontario and Alberta and being contemplated federally with Bill C-16 are unnecessary since all transsexuals are already protected in law, no less than anyone else. In the interim, we urge that a better balance of rights occur. In places where a reasonable expectation of privacy exists, (washrooms, women’s gyms, etc.) the biological measure of a person’s sex must be the determining factor for access. Due to the reality that there is no objective means to identify a transgendered person, this measure of preventative access can help protect against devastating consequences. Interestingly, spaces of privacy have become "gender-neutral." Adding different genders has had the pernicious effect of subtracting the difference between the sexes expected in public, and removing the privacy and the shield for natural modesty appropriate to them in certain social contexts. Conclusion Gender matters because people matter. Maleness and femaleness are distinct and complimentary realities that correspond to our biological selves and go to the core of what it means to be human. When governments ignore or undermine this reality they do so to society’s detriment. While some children struggling with gender identity disorder may need exceptional care in their various situations, the State helps no one by “breaking down gender” across the province or country. Canadian politicians must be willing to take a stand for good public policy as it relates to gender and sexuality. With sound public policy, we can help our transgendered neighbors as they navigate these troubled waters in times of social change. Out of compassion for our transgendered neighbors, inspired by our duty to love them as ourselves, we need to speak out against an ideology that harms them. It won’t be easy, but the right thing to do rarely is. André Schutten is the General Legal Counsel for ARPA Canada. This article is adapted from a fully footnoted 2016 Policy Report for Parliamentarians on Gender Identity which is available at ARPACanada.ca. This first appeared in the Nov/Dec 2016 issue....

Adult non-fiction

BOOK REVIEW: Understanding Gender Dysphoria

A book worth chewing on…but not swallowing whole UNDERSTANDING GENDER DYSPHORIA: Navigating Transgender Issues in a Changing Culture - by Mark A. Yarhouse - 191 pages / 2015 Christian leaders have a new, helpful and thorough resource available to help them respond to the recent phenomenon known as “gender identity disorder” or “gender dysphoria.” Understanding Gender Dysphoria is authored by Dr. Mark Yarhouse, a clinical psychologist and Hughes Chair of Christian Thought in Mental Health Practice at Regent University. He has a long career of counseling those struggling with gender dysphoria, a condition in which the person feels there is some sort of disconnect between their biological sex and the gender they feel they really should be – they are men who feel like they should be women, and women who feel like they should be men. Yarhouse’s book brings a Christian perspective to the issue that avoids simplistic answers and embraces and grapples with the psychological and theological complexity. Yarhouse engages with an incredible amount of social-scientific and medical research, but avoids the pitfall of producing a merely clinical document. Rather, he emphasizes pastoral sensitivity and challenges the Christian reader to walk side by side with people struggling with their identity. OVERVIEW OF THE BOOK There’s a lot in the book, so let’s begin with a quick overview. Understanding Gender Dysphoria is written for a Christian audience, a fact made obvious by the dedication on the first page: “To the Church, the Body of Christ.” Yarhouse is motivated by a desire to see the Church proactively grapple with this issue and help those who desperately need help. He has a lot of criticism for the “culture wars” mentality, which tends to be too simplistic in its engagement of issues like transgenderism. He lays the groundwork by explaining what exactly gender dysphoria is and how complex of an issue it really is. He then delves into Scripture, and wrestles with a number of different texts, analyzing them in light of their historical or literary context and applying them to the issue. He spends a chapter on the causes of gender dysphoria (the short answer is, we just don’t know!), a chapter on its prevalence and how it manifests, and a chapter on prevention and treatment. Throughout these chapters, Yarhouse cites the latest studies, and is careful to note strengths and weaknesses in the reliability of those studies. He makes it clear that much more careful study is needed. Yarhouse ends his book with two chapters on a Christian response, one at the level of the individual and one at the level of the institution. Here he enters the pastoral realm and gives suggestions for better ways in which Christians and churches can compassionately assist and walk alongside transgendered neighbors. GENDER IDENTITY CONFLICTS: THREE LENSES A theme that runs throughout the book is an analysis of three frameworks or “lenses” through which different groups see the issue of transgenderism and gender dysphoria. It’s helpful to explore these in order to understand the starting point for how the various groups in society view and understand the issue. All three perspectives have something to offer, and also have limitations. After discussing them, Dr. Yarhouse proposes his own fourth “lens” or framework, which includes aspects of the other three. So what are these frameworks? 1. Integrity framework The integrity framework is probably the lens through which most Christians, as well as most orthodox Jews, and Muslims, view the transgender issue. This framework understands gender in terms of the sacred integrity of maleness and femaleness. We are our biological sex, and there’s no changing that. God created mankind as male and female, equal in dignity and worth, yet with distinct and complementary roles. But you don’t have to be religious to believe that our gender is stamped on us and unchangeable. A naturalist (one who denies the supernatural) might simply note that in nature we see humankind and the animals as being a binary species: male or female markers are imprinted on each and every one of the trillions of cells of each human and animal body. According to the integrity framework, men and women are to conform to, and live in accordance with their biological sex. Scriptural backing for the integrity framework can be found in the creation account, particularly in Genesis 2, and also some Mosaic prohibitions in Deuteronomy against cross-dressing, as well as Jesus’ teachings in the gospels and Paul’s teaching in his letters to the Ephesians and to Timothy. Meanwhile, the naturalist can look to the consistent testimony of biology, DNA and chromosomal data, as well as abundant social-scientific evidence to confirm the binary biological differences between the sexes. Are there any limitations or potential pitfalls to this approach? Well, holding exclusively to this view might leave a person liable to seeing all male/female differences as unchangeable, including those that are actually just gender stereotypes (i.e. women are bad at math, men are bad at cooking). It might also lead some to overlook and dismiss the struggles of individuals with gender dysphoria (as in “He’s a guy not a girl – what doesn’t he just smarten up!”). And it also has the potential to paint all transgender people with the same brush. 2. Disability framework Another way of understanding transgenderism is through the disability framework. As the name suggests, it focuses on the mental health dimensions of the phenomenon of gender dysphoria, and views transgenderism as a disorder of the mind. Most Christians would see some value in this framework too. As our society begins to understand the realities of mental health issues such as schizophrenia, multiple personality disorders, anorexia or post-partum depression, then we get a new sense of what gender dysphoria is like. The potential pitfall to the disability framework is that in presenting the problem as a health one or a medical matter, it might well prevent discussion of any theological dimension. Treatment becomes very clinical; theological or spiritual responses are sidelined. As one transgender Christian said, “By reducing gender dysphoria to a mere medical diagnosis, I felt trapped and robbed of a spiritual solution.” 3. Diversity framework The diversity framework is the way most social progressives view transgenderism – they see gender dysphoria as a good thing, to be celebrated. There are two subgroups within the diversity framework. A vocal minority – Yarhouse calls them the “strong” form diversity framework – sees the sex-gender binary as a socially constructed authority structure to be destroyed and eliminated. But there’s another group within the diversity framework (the “weak” form) that simply seeks to give expression to the lived experience of a transgendered person and to answer two questions of identity and community: “Who am I?” and, “Where do I belong?” For those who subscribe to the integrity framework and, to a lesser extent, those who subscribe to the disability framework, there are many problems with the diversity framework. We know that our gender is fixed, and, in fact, a gift from God. So any efforts at undermining the reality of gender are to be opposed. But Yarhouse argues there is still some value in the weak form of the diversity lens, particularly for the Christian community. What can we learn from this framework? Well, Christians recognize that all humanity is disordered. Any honest Canadian would agree that every human being struggles with the brokenness of life, biologically, psychologically, and spiritually. So “Who am I” and “Where do I belong” are important questions that need to be answered. There are answers, and they apply to all, including the transgendered. Indeed, there is a lesson here for broader Canadian civil society: we can give space for expression of struggles and assist with answering deep questions of identity and community without having to go so far as to deconstruct gender or to embrace and affirm new and dangerous social theories. 4. An integrated approach Dr. Yarhouse argues that we need to take the best of all three of these approaches and create a new framework altogether: what he calls “an integrated approach.” The integrated view recognizes the integrity of the two complimentary sexes as God has created them. It also recognizes the psychological element or disability associated with this issue, which needs to be addressed with compassion. And the integrated approach takes from the diversity framework the understanding that every individual in their particular circumstances and struggles want their experience or struggle to be understood and heard and want to know who they are and where they belong. The Christian worldview offers a compelling alternative to the approach of the proponents of the “strong” form of the diversity framework, which seeks to deny and destroy all gender differences. Sadly, the strong form of diversity framework has been adopted – without critical reflection and to the exclusion of other perspectives – by too many provincial governments and is now being imposed onto our communities and schools with the force of law. CAUTIONS ABOUT THE BOOK A legitimate question can be asked at this point: Is Yarhouse’s integrated model backed up by Scripture on all three points? I think they are, with this caveat: an integrated approach does not necessarily mean taking an equal measure of each of the three views (integrity, disability and diversity). Yarhouse himself seems to favor the disability model first (he is a clinician, after all), informed by the integrity model, with the diversity model adding a smaller piece to the overall puzzle. Dr. Robert Gagnon, a leading theologian on the bible and sexuality, has offered some push back on Yarhouse’s thought (I commend to the reader his article published Oct. 16, 2015 titled “How Should Christians Respond to the Transgender Phenomenon?”). Gagnon takes issue with points of conflict between the disability lens and the integrity lens. While he acknowledges the disability lens, Gagnon is concerned that Yarhouse’s use of the disability label might have the unintended effect of accommodating sinful choices, since Yarhouse argues that “the disability lens also makes room for supportive care and interventions that allow for cross-gender identification in a way the integrity lens does not.” To put it in other words, Gagnon is worried that understanding this as merely a disability might lead to treatments that, in themselves, could become sinful behaviors. It is important to note here that Gagnon agrees with Yarhouse that the mere existence of gender dysphoria is not sin itself. He writes: I do not view the mere experience of gender dysphoria as necessarily resulting from active efforts to rebel against God… Where I would qualify Yarhouse is in noting a more complex interplay of nature, nurture, environment, and choices. Incremental choices made in response to impulses may strengthen the same impulses. Gagnon suggests that it is here that Yarhouse departs from the Biblical language by referencing the clear dictates of Scripture in Deut. 22:5, and Paul’s reference to “soft men” in 1 Cor. 6:9-10. Gagnon suggests that while having the internal turmoil over gender identity is not sin, “acting on a desire to become the opposite sex can in fact affect one’s redemption.” How far should Christians following Yarhouse’s suggestions of compassionate accommodation go? On the one hand, were a man wearing a dress to attend one of our services, his attire should not be our first concern. We can greet him, and get to know him, ask what brought him, etc. The Church is, after all, a place for sinners, so we should be able to accommodate all sorts of seekers. But Yarhouse pushes accommodation further. He talks of intermittent (and often private) cross-dressing as a way for some Christians to manage their struggle with gender dysphoria. But this is no longer accommodating a seeker who doesn’t yet know what God has said about gender. It is accommodating someone who knows God made us male and female, who wants to indulge in sinful behavior on occasion. So Yarhouse doesn’t properly limit the extent of the accommodation the Church should show. One final caveat: Yarhouse makes repeated reference to the Church rising above the culture wars or abandoning the culture wars on this issue. I do think there is value in the Church elevating our language and avoiding the typical style of the so-called culture wars, by avoiding debates that lack all nuance and are blunt or belligerent (the style of Ezra Levant is an easy target, but there are many on both sides of the debate who engage in this style). That being said, Christians cannot avoid the culture wars altogether – it’s one manifestation of the antithesis. The question is not whether we do it, but how. We must engage with the culture as salt and light. We must engage winsomely and relationally. Perhaps this is what Yarhouse is getting at. But simply because some do the culture wars poorly isn’t any reason at all for Christians to disengage. RECOMMENDATION This book was a challenging yet rewarding read. It really opened my eyes to a much fuller understanding of the issue of transgenderism and, in particular, gender dysphoria. It's pastorally sensitive while also being scientifically grounded and very well researched. Yarhouse is definitely an expert in the field and has given me a deep appreciation for the complexity of the issue. This book does require work to get through, but the payoff is a much better, fuller and more nuanced understanding of the issue than what is readily available through any short-form articles in the mainstream or social media. With the cautions noted above, I recommend this book for Christian counselors, pastors, elders and teachers....

Apologetics 101, Pro-life - Abortion, Sexuality

Don’t Argue the Exceptions: Beating bad arguments for Abortion and Transgenderism

“But what about the . . . ?” Has a rare exception every stumped you when making the case for life or anything else? Here’s how to respond with grace and truth. 10 fingers and toes “Humans have ten fingers and ten toes.” Now that shouldn’t strike anyone as a controversial statement, since almost every person ever born has had twenty digits. But what if someone argued in response that, because there are exceptions to this—people who because of injury or genetic defect lack a digit or two—we ought not describe ten fingers and ten toes as normal or descriptive of being human? We’d rightly think that a silly argument, of course. So why do we tolerate this same kind of reasoning in modern social debates? Take abortion. Perhaps you’ve heard someone challenge the pro-life view with this exception: “Well what about rape and incest, or the life of the mother?” Or take gender. Folks ask me all the time, “But what about those born with ambiguous genitalia?” These objections stop a lot of Christians in their tracks. But they shouldn’t. When pro-choice activists insist that we can’t outlaw abortion because some pregnancies result from rape and incest, or endanger the life of the mother, they’re ignoring the fact that in nearly all abortions none of these considerations are factors at all. Rather, healthy babies are killed simply because they’re inconvenient. Now don’t get me wrong. I don’t support the intentional taking of unborn life under any circumstance. As Live Action President Lila Rose often points out, the unborn are human beings no matter what the circumstances of their conception. Rape and other sexual crimes are monstrous, but abortion doesn’t undo those wrongs, it only creates another victim. Arguing about exceptions like these only muddies the waters. And sometimes, that’s exactly what the pro-choice side wants. For the sake of argument... The same thing happens when someone brings up ambiguous genitalia in the transgender debate. This condition is tragic, and the subject requires great care. But it’s also extremely rare — by most estimates, in fact, occurring in just one in twenty-two thousand births. In other words, when we allow this tiny fraction of a percent to control the entire debate, we obscure the overwhelming reality. And so, for the sake of discussion, instead of arguing about the exceptions, why not just grant them? When someone challenges you about extreme cases for abortion, try replying this way: “Okay, let’s say we keep abortion legal in these rare cases. What about the other ninety-six percent of abortions that are elective? Can we end those?” Nine times out of ten, you’ll hear crickets. Likewise, when it comes to gender, grant that in cases of ambiguous genitalia, there really is a biological basis for doubt and that we must rethink medical practices that too quickly label someone male or female if the physical evidence isn’t clear. By granting the exceptions, we force the other person to face the real questions, or admit they’re using rare cases as wedges for their real agenda. Exceptions prove the principle But more importantly, these exceptions actually prove the principles we believe in. Here’s what I mean: If someone says, “if a baby was conceived in a crime, we have the right to kill her,” that person is appealing to the circumstances under which the baby was conceived. To then argue that abortion should be legal in all cases is to admit that circumstances don’t in fact matter. That my friend, is called a contradiction. Same thing is true with transgenderism. To argue that biology matters in the case of ambiguous genitalia and then argue that biology doesn’t matter with clearly defined genitalia is nonsense. Our response should be: Biology matters or it doesn’t. Pick one. Look, rare cases are tough and complicated. But that doesn’t mean that all or even most of the other cases are. So the next time someone argues for abortion or gender fluidity from an exception, grant it and then confront them with the vast majority of cases. And if they refuse, just ask them how many fingers and toes they have. Copyright 2017 by the Colson Center for Christian Worldview. Reprinted from BreakPoint.org with permission....

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 report by two American College of Pediatricians doctors put 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....

Apologetics 101, Sexuality

Apologetics 101: Give them what they are asking for

This summer the Brandenburg State Parliament (in Germany) debated whether to create an action plan for, among other things, the acceptance of "gender diversity."  Now as every good storyteller knows, the key to a gripping yarn is to show, rather than tell. So when parliamentarian Steffen Königer spoke out against the proposal he made his point by giving a demonstration of the sort of foolishness the bill would promote. It was as if he said, “You want diversity? I’ll give you diversity!” So he began by giving a greeting to more than 50 supposed genders. Dear Mr. President, Ladies and Gentlemen, dear Homosexuals, dear Lesbians, dear Androgynes, dear Bi-genders, dear Female-to-males, dear Male-to-females, dear Gender-variables, dear Gender-queers, dear Intersexuals, dear “Neither”-genders, dear Asexuals, dear Non-binaries, dear Pan-genders and Pansexuals, dear Trans-males and Trans-men, dear Trans-females and Trans women, dear Trans-humans, dear Trans-with-*(gender star), dear Trans *females and Trans*women, dear Trans *males and Trans*men, dear Trans-humans, dear-Trans-feminines, dear Transsexual persons, dear Inter*females, dear Inter*males… At this point the Parliament’s president interrupted: “Would you allow an interposed question?” Königer replied, “But I’m not done with my introduction yet Mr. President. Sorry, no.” And he continued: Dear Inter*men, dear Inter*women, dear Inter*humans, dear Inter-genders, dear Inter-sexuals, dear Dual-genders, dear Androgynes, dear Hermaphrodites, dear Two-spirit third genders, dear 4th genders, dear XY-women, dear Bartsch (the German seems untranslatable), dear Gender-absent, dear Transvestites, dear Cross-gender, dear Zero-gender, and of course a warm welcome to all the “Other” genders….dear (male_ or female_) Mrs. or Mr. Nonnemacher, dear (male_ or female_) Mrs. or Mr. Baader, Dear (male_ or female_) Mrs. or Mr. Mus… party rejects your proposal. Thank you. When the world wants madness, one good way to counter them is to take them seriously and give them exactly what they are asking for. Königer’s 2-minute introduction and 5-second speech did just that, and it was met with smirks and laughter. He delivered it with restraint – he seems a dry wit – and with a twinkle in his eye. And despite the craziness being proposed, he did not whine, bemoan or otherwise despair. He was, in a word, winsome. We can learn from his stunt. Like him, we can expose the world’s foolishness with a smile. And then we can improve on his example, pointing our audience not simply away from the foolish lie, but towards God’s precious truth! SOURCE: Jacob Bojesson’s “German politician trolls gender-identity debate greeting parliament in 60 genders” posted to DailyCaller.com on June 10; “German MP speaks out on diversity bill, addressing 60 genders” posted to RT.com on June 22; AFD Party press release (Google translated) “AFD Group rejects meaningless Action Plan” posted to AFD-fraktion-brandenburg.de on June 9; Picture is screenshot of AFD party video found on the AFD-Televion YouTube channel, posted June, 2016....

Magazine, Past Issue

June 2016 issue

WHAT’S INSIDE: The transsexual debate and the death of logic / Can I become a Chinese woman? / Alcohol and your kids / Moderation: where beer and psalm-singing go hand in hand / The pope's heresy / Transgenderism: It's not about the bathrooms / 10 tools to help you clear away transgender confusion / Propaganda disguised as sex education / Noah's ark heads to Brazil? / 4 films for the family / and more! Click the cover to view or right-click to download the PDF ...

Culture Clashes

White sister thinks she is black mother

This summer a former Olympic athlete convinced the world that a man can become a women. Bruce Jenner underwent surgeries that included breast implants and facial sculpting. He either has already, or is considering, amputating his penis. He was given the Arthur Ashe Award for Courage. Soon after the National Post then featured an article on able-bodied people who want to be disabled, and like Jenner, want to make use of surgery to amputate parts of their body. And like Jenner, they describe themselves as feeling like imposters in their own bodies. One fellow, now known as One Hand Jason went so far as to cut off his right arm with a “very sharp power tool.” He has yet to receive any awards for the courage involved in his transformation. In mid June the president of the Spokane chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NCAAP) told her local news station that despite being born from two very white parents, she considers herself black. Rather than amputation, Rachel Dolezal needed only to make use of a change of hairdo and perhaps a tanning booth. She also has not received any awards for her transformation. Dolezal also shared that she considers her adoptive black brother her son. Can men become women, abled become disabled, white become black, and brothers become sons? The world is sure about the first, and confused about the last three, though they have no justifiable reason to be so. If amputation is understood as a legitimate option in Jenner’s case, on what basis can they object to it for One Hand Jason? And if what we are is defined by how we feel things should be – which is how the world is treating Jenner – then of course a white can be black and your brother can be your son. Whereas the world despises discernment (they call it being judgmental), God encourages it. God made us male and female, and assigned different roles on that basis. So this is a difference to be embraced, not ignored or fought. And while He has made us in a rainbow of skin tones, this is a difference He minimizes – in the opening chapters of the Bible we are told that all of us are of one blood and there is just one human race. The world is confused, but Christians need not be. God has given us guidance as to which differences matter, and which differences are made too much of. Whether we can convince our non-Christian neighbors and friends that God's ways are the best ways is up to the Holy Spirit, but with a question or two (like, "If Jenner wants to amputate his penis and One Hand Jason wants to amputate his hand, is that something we should encourage?") we can show them the vast gulf that exists between His ways and the wacky world's ways. (Updated June 18, 2015, to reflect the uncertainty about whether Jenner has already amputated his penis.)...

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