The Death of a Fetal Human is Different Than the Death of a Dying Human

While hosting the Stand to Reason Radio Show on Sunday, a caller asked me how to defend an objection related to abortion. A friend asked him how he could be comfortable ending the life of a person on life support, yet uncomfortable ending a life in the womb. He was asked to imagine the scenario of a dying man who (as the result of suffering a stroke or being involved in a car accident) had no recordable brain activity. Isn’t this person just like the fetal human in the earliest weeks of development? Neither has any observable brain activity; should either been seen as a living human? If we have the right to “un-plug” one (the dying human), why don’t we have the right to unplug the other (the fetal human)?

Fetus Dyng Human

Of course the biggest problem with this description of “living humans” is that it equates mental capacity with personhood. Can a person still be a person even if they lack a certain degree of measurable brain activity?  How much activity is required before one attains personhood? Am I less a “person” if I don’t have the mental capacity of someone who is smarter? What if I am in an induced coma? What if my diminished metal condition is temporary? See the problem? But there is an even bigger problem with the scenario offered by the caller. We simply cannot equate the of lack brain activity in the unborn with the lack of brain activity in the aging or injured. We must distinguish between these two groups:

“Not Yet” Adult Humans
Fetal humans may lack brainwave activity, but if left to their own devices (if we do nothing to intervene) they will eventually become fully functioning human beings. They are “not yet” adult humans, but if you simply leave them alone, they will become adults like you and me. Ever notice the bananas on sale at your local market? Most of them are green. Many are so green that you wouldn’t even imagine eating them for a week. But we buy them anyway. Why? Because they are “not yet” ripe bananas. If we buy them, put them on the shelf, simply leave them alone and do nothing to intervene, they will become the ripe bananas we all know and love. We don’t throw away green bananas; we wait patiently for them to ripen. We understand their value even though they are green.

“Never Again” Adult Humans
But we don’t feel the same way about over-ripe, black bananas. We recognize that bananas (like all living things) have a life cycle. There is a time when a banana’s life is over. Sadly, there are times when we must also admit the same is true for humans. At the end of one’s life, when we are sure that someone will “never again” be a living adult human being, it may be appropriate to allow life to run it’s course. Aging or injured humans are not like fetal humans. When someone is aging or injured we find ourselves asking, “Should I intervene to prolong life?” When considering the fate of the fetal human, we find ourselves asking, “Should I intervene to end life?” See the important difference?

As Christians, we are consistent in our approach in these two scenarios when we say we ought not intervene. We don’t want to intervene to end the life of a fetal human, because our intervention alters the course of someone who is developing into a living adult (this is the expected trajectory that God has for all of us as fetal humans). And we don’t want to intervene to extend the life of someone who is already brain dead, because our intervention alters the course of someone who will never again be a living adult (this is the expected trajectory that God has for all of us as aging humans).  Fetal humans ought to be allowed to live, even as dying humans ought to be allowed to die.


 

When Does Personhood Begin? Part I

Once you have established that the unborn are human from fertilization, the next step is to ask when we should assign basic human rights to a human individual [1]. The right to life is the most fundamental of all rights since without it you can’t enjoy any other rights. It’s pretty difficult to enjoy freedom of speech if you’re not alive to speak in the first place.

As a Christian, I believe that all humans are valuable because we were made in God’s image. [2] God does not have a physical body, so we weren’t made in His physical image. We were made in the image of His likeness; in other words, God has a rational, moral nature, and made us with a similar rational, moral nature.

Clifton Blog

The pro-life view is that basic human rights should be established when the human comes into existence, that is, at fertilization. In fact, I hesitate to use the term “person” because it’s a legal term that has been used to legally discriminate against groups of people in the past (such as Africans when slavery was legal). So when I use “person” it’s usually synonymous with “entity with basic rights” (e.g. the right to life).

The view held by most pro-life advocates is the Substance View, which has its roots in the sixth century Christian philosopher, Boethius: “a person is an individual substance that has a rational nature.” [3] A substance is essentially something that maintains its identity through change. You are essentially the same being now as the embryo you were in the womb. You can cut off an arm and still be you. Since you are the same substance, if a morally justifiable reason is needed to kill you now, a morally justifiable reason is needed to kill you in the womb. So if anyone is going to support abortion, a reason must be given that could not also be applied to someone outside the womb, otherwise killing that person outside the womb would also be morally justifiable.

The only truly consistent position is the pro-life position, which holds that the unborn are human from fertilization. Basic human rights should be established as soon as the human comes into existence. By contrast, the pro-choice position establishes basic human rights at a certain arbitrary point in human development.

Furthermore, the pro-life view is the all-inclusive view, whereas the pro-choice view excludes certain humans based on their lack of some arbitrarily-decided-upon feature (or point in their development). But to the pro-life advocate, all humans are valuable based on their inherent capacity as rational, moral agents. The human is both a rational and a moral being. Without a moral nature there would be no true humanity, so those who would abolish the moral law would abolish humanity in the bargain. [4] As C.S. Lewis writes, “Either we are rational spirit obliged for ever to obey the absolute values of the Tao, or else we are mere nature to be kneaded and cut into new shapes for the pleasure masters who must, by hypothesis, have no motive but their own ‘natural’ impulses. Only the Tao provides a common human law of action which can over-arch rulers and ruled alike. A dogmatic belief in objective value is necessary to the very idea of a rule which is not tyranny or an obedience which is not slavery.” [5]

It often helps in discussions with pro-choice advocates to make sure you listen carefully and accurately understand what their actual argument is, rather than assuming it. It helps to make a distinction between the humanity of the unborn and their personhood. Sometimes when someone accuses the unborn of not being human, they really mean they don’t believe we should afford them basic human rights, or personhood. If they really mean the unborn isn’t alive or isn’t human, then you can refer to my previous article about how we know the unborn are unique, living, human organisms. But if they mean the unborn are not persons, then the conversation will most likely be led in the following direction.

Most pro-choice objections you will encounter will usually fall under one of four categories, and you can remember these by the acronym SLED, as conceived by philosopher Stephen Schwartz. [6] SLED stands for Size, Level of Development, Environment, and Degree of Dependency. An objection raised that falls under one of these categories argues that the unborn aren’t human, or aren’t a person. After looking at these objections we’ll analyze a few others which have to do with function and socioeconomic problems. There are other, more difficult objections which I’ll write about in a future post. For now, these are some of the more common objections you’ll encounter.

For each of these objections, it helps to affirm the difference. This establishes common ground with the pro-choice advocate. Yes, the unborn are smaller, less developed, etc. than we are. But then you’ll want to ask why it matters. Finally, point to someone outside the womb who has those same differences and ask if it would be okay to kill them for that same reason. [7]

Size — the unborn is certainly much smaller than we are, but two-year-old children are much smaller than adults. Women are generally much smaller than men. But does this mean that two-year-old children have less rights than adults, and women have less rights than men because they’re smaller? It would not be unfair for a basketball coach to choose Shaquille O’Neal for his team over Gary Coleman, but it would be equally wrong to kill either one of them.

Level of Development — the unborn are certainly less developed than we are. Two-year-olds are less developed than adults. Does this mean that two-year-olds have less rights as humans than adults do?

Environment — the unborn are in a different place than we are. They’re in the womb. Changing location doesn’t change your nature or your value. I flew to Italy three years ago but who I was didn’t change. So how does an eight-inch journey down the birth canal change one’s value or nature?

Degree of Dependency — the unborn are much more dependent than we are. But how does being more dependent make us less valuable? It seems to me that someone who is more vulnerable deserves that much more protection. Children can’t drive, so they are more dependent than their parents are, who have driver’s licenses. But does it follow that adults may kill their children because they’re more dependent? Some say that the fact that they are totally dependent on one person means that person has the right to kill them. But how does that follow?

First, it seems that only being dependent on one person makes you less of a burden than being dependent on many people. But second, as Justice for All’s Executive Director David Lee says, suppose you’re the last out of a public pool and you hear a splash from the deep end. You look in the water and a toddler has fallen in and is drowning. No one else is there but you. That child is completely dependent on you for its survival — are you morally justified in walking away and letting the child die?

Some say that it’s okay to kill the unborn because they can’t feel pain. I think when someone says this they really mean it’s better to kill someone as an embryo because they won’t be in pain. But still, the lack of feeling pain does not mean it’s morally justified to kill someone, otherwise you would be justified in killing someone in their sleep, or through a painless method.

Take the case of Gabby Gingras, born with congenital insensitivity to pain. [8] This would mean that it would be morally justifiable to kill someone with this condition for any reason that would be used for a similar abortion.

Some also say consciousness or self-awareness is what establishes value. The problem with self-awareness is that we’re not self-aware until sometime after birth. So this would justify infanticide (and some pro-choice philosophers, such as Michael Tooley and Peter Singer, support infanticide for this very reason). Plus, if the immediately exercisable capacity for consciousness is what establishes value, then we could kill anyone who loses consciousness. This would mean we would be morally justified in killing someone for any reason who falls asleep, enters a reversible coma, or goes under anesthesia before a major surgery.

Additionally, as Francis Beckwith and Patrick Lee note, if consciousness is required to bestow value on a human, then no humans are intrinsically valuable. Consciousness is intrinsically valuable. This would mean that the moral rule would be to maximize valuable states of functions. It would not be morally wrong to kill a child, no matter what age, if doing so enabled one to have two children in the future, and thus to bring it about that there were two vehicles of intrinsic value rather than one. [9]

The thing about pain, self-awareness, or consciousness (aside from the problems already mentioned) is that these are Level of Development problems. So point to a two-year-old, or another human outside the womb who also fails in that way, and ask if it’s morally justifiable to kill someone just because they’re less developed than we are.

Finally, there are certain objections that rely on socioeconomic problems. For example, they might say that a family can’t afford another child, or that overpopulation is an issue, etc. Someone making these arguments is simply assuming that the unborn aren’t human, so in an argument like this it helps to bring the argument back on topic (to what is the unborn?) by asking if these same reasons could be used to justify killing a two-year-old child. A family of six could not kill their two-year-old child to help feed their other children, so we can’t justify abortion for this reason. We can’t go around killing small children or homeless people to help with overpopulation, so we can’t justify abortion for this reason either. Trotting Out the Toddler is a powerful tool to help keep the discussion on what the actual issue is, the nature of the unborn [10].

Original Blog Source: http://bit.ly/2ncmmyd


[1] Note here that as a JFA mentor, we actually take a slightly different approach than the one presented here. The scope of this article is how to defend the position that personhood should be established at fertilization, but in JFA seminars we prefer to keep the focus on what the unborn is. I have used both approaches in my discussions with pro-choice advocates.
[2] Genesis 1:26
[3] Ancius Manlius Severinus Boethius, Liber de Persona et Duabus Naturis, ch. 3.
[4] Lewis, C.S., The Abolition of Man, p. 77.
[5] ibid., pp. 84-85. Note that when C.S. Lewis speaks of the Tao, he is referring to an objective moral law.
[6] Schwartz, Stephen D., The Moral Question of Abortion, Chicago: Loyola University Press, 1990, pp. 15-19.
[7] Credit goes to JFA for this approach to using the SLED tool in a dialogue.
[8] Note that this article is a little graphic.
[9] Paraphrased from Francis J. Beckwith, Defending Life: A Moral and Legal Case Against Abortion Choice, (Cambridge University Press: Cambridge, New York, 2007), p.50, and Patrick Lee, Abortion and Unborn Human Life, (Washington, DC: Catholic University of America Press, 1996), p. 55.
[10] Credit goes to Scott Klusendorf and Greg Koukl for the tool of Trotting Out the Toddler.

How to Leverage Moral Outrage for the Gospel

By Michael C Sherrard

It is good to acknowledge the appropriateness of ones anger in the midst of evil and pain. It is right to be angry over injustice. It is right to be sick at crimes against children. It is good for you to feel a hole in your stomach as you look upon the devastation and loss of life caused by a natural disaster. It is right to think, “This is not how life is supposed to be.” The key is for anger to be directed rightly whereupon your steps follow the right path of action.

Moral Gospel Christianity

Acknowledging an individual’s sense of justice can lead them to repentance. When we are angry at evil, we are acknowledging that life has purpose. We are recognizing that there is a difference between good and bad. We are affirming that bad should be punished. But what does that mean for my bad actions? And from where did my sense of justice come in the first place?

If life is the result of an accident, how can life have a purpose? And if life has no purpose, why am I angry at what I think is unfair? My sense of oughtness is an indication that I believe in a standard of life. But what standard, an arbitrary one set by changing cultures driven by natural selection or a transcendent one that never changes even though societies might? Mankind’s sense of justice can point them to the good Judge. Affirm their outrage and direct it properly.

If you take people down this road, you will see how mankind’s universal sense of justice is to the gospel’s advantage. There is only one worldview that provides a justification for belief in inherent human value and thereby true morality. It is theism. A transcendent creator is needed for our sense of justice to have any value. Existence must have been intentional for life to have intrinsic and objective worth. And simply, when we look at the world and say, “That is wrong!” there has to be an eternally fixed “right” for our moral indignation to have any value. Leverage this understanding that all naturally possess and direct them toward the One who is not only the standard of life, but its very essence.

This blog was originally published at MichaelCSherrard.com


America Desperately Needs Real Tolerance: A Lesson from Mike Pence

Our country is deeply divided. This, of course, is no secret. There are competing versions over how we need to proceed in terms of race, economics, moral issues and more.

Underlying many of these issues is a competing view of tolerance. As my father and I point out in our book The Beauty of Intolerance, tolerance no longer means what it used to mean. Classically, tolerance has meant recognizing and respecting others when you don’t share their beliefs, values, or practices. By this definition, tolerance assumes disagreement. Otherwise, what is there to tolerate? But according to a new view, tolerance means recognizing and respecting all views as being equal. And by this view, if you think your view is superior, then you’re a hateful, intolerant bigot.

tolerance mike pence

Two Competing Views of Tolerance

These two competing views of tolerance were on clear display this week. In response to the election of Donald Trump, designer Sophie Theallet called for the fashion industry to boycott Melania Trump. In defense of her views, Sophie posted a letter on Twitter that says her brand “stands against all discrimination and prejudice.” And then she says, “As one who celebrates and strives for diversity, individual freedom, and respect for all lifestyles, I will not participate in dressing or associating in any way with the next First Lady.” And she called on the fashion industry to follow her lead.

The irony and contradiction is evident. If she really stands against “discrimination and prejudice,” then why prejudge and discriminate against Melania? If she really values “respect for all lifestyles,” then why not respect the future First Lady, especially since her husband received support from roughly half the country? Do their values matter? In reality, Theallet embraces a pseudo view of tolerance that claims to accept all lifestyles, but in practice, only accepts those who agree with her.

She certainly has the right to hold, defend, and proclaim this view. Even though I think she’s wrong, I fully support her right to run her business this way and to make her views public. People should have the right to run their businesses based upon their deepest moral convictions. But I do think she should stop pretending to value “diversity, individual freedom, and respect for all lifestyles.” Clearly she doesn’t.

How Mike Pence Stole the Show

If you want to see real value for diversity, and a genuine model of tolerance, you will have to look to another story that has been trending this week: the Hamilton/Pence controversy.

Vice-President Elect Mike Pence took his family to see the play Hamilton. When he arrived many people booed him. How did he respond? “I nudged my kids and reminded them, that’s what freedom sounds like…I wasn’t offended by what was said,” said Pence in an interview on Fox News Sunday.

In other words, rather than getting defensive, angry or resorting to name-calling, Pence chose to find the good in people booing him, and he took the opportunity to teach his kids a valuable lesson: America is a great nation that allows people to disagree fervently. In fact, the value of freedom is greater than our own discomfort. By defending the right of people to boo him, Pence showed that he values freedom more deeply than his own feelings.

Part of what has made America great is that we are a nation of people with diverse views on a plethora of issues. Even though we may think others are deeply mistaken, we value the freedom of disagreement.

After the show, members of the cast personally addressed Pence and offered a criticism of his administration. On stage with his fellow actors, Brandon Victor Dixon read a statement directed at Pence:

We are the diverse America who are alarmed and anxious that your new administration will not protect us, our planet, our children, our parents, or defend us and uphold our inalienable rights, sir. But we truly hope this show has inspired you to uphold our American values, and work on behalf of all of us.”

Again, how did Pence respond? Although his security detail rushed him out, Pence made sure to stop and hear the full statement. He valued their opinion and their right to hold it. And he had no ill words the next day. In fact, Pence praised the actors and mentioned how much he enjoyed the show. And he reiterated his commitment to work for all Americans. As a result, Dixon called his response “encouraging.”

Our country will be deeply divided for some time. How do we move forward as a nation? Pence gave us many lessons, but one stands out as critical for our nation at this point: choose to be gracious and kind towards others and genuinely listen to their concerns. Pence could have been critical, harsh, or defensive. But he took the high road. He chose to be civil and kind towards those who see the world differently. And it was noticed. Although it was small, he advanced the ball on bringing back civil discourse. Let’s hope this is a sign of things to come from people on all sides of the political spectrum.

Sean McDowell, Ph.D. is a professor of Christian Apologetics at Biola University, a best-selling author of over 18 books, an internationally recognized speaker, and a part-time high school teacher. Follow him on Twitter: @sean_mcdowell and his blog: seanmcdowell.org.

 


 

Christians and Donald Trump: Our Meeting with Him

I was asked to participate in a meeting between Donald Trump and about 35 Christian leaders Friday night in Charlotte.  There was no requirement for participants to endorse Mr. Trump. Instead, it was a chance to exchange ideas with Mr. Trump on issues especially important to the Christian community, such as life, judges, and the growing problem of the government coercing religious people to violate their religious beliefs.

Christians and Donald Trump

As he did in a similar meeting I attended in New York a couple of weeks ago, Mr. Trump affirmed his commitment to protect life, appoint conservative judges vetted by the Federalist Society, and to work with Christians on religious freedom issues.  While I don’t endorse candidates, I am encouraged by Mr. Trump’s willingness and openness to personally discuss these issues and express his agreement with the positions I support.

For those Christians who think it’s wrong to meet with someone like Mr. Trump, I ask them to take off their Pharisee robes for a minute to see whom Jesus met with and ministered to.  Meeting with Mr. Trump is not only biblical, it’s an opportunity to do good. When one of the two people who will be President of the United States asks for your opinion, why wouldn’t you provide it?  It’s a dereliction of duty to not speak the truth on issues that directly affect lives and our ability to preach the Gospel and live our faith!

Mr. Trump’s team reached out to me and other Christians.  I’d meet with Mrs. Clinton if she requested my opinion (I’ve only heard crickets so far. And I doubt there are any evangelical Christians expecting her call since she wants to use the force of government to change our beliefs, and her party has demonstrated hostility to biblical Christianity for the past eight years).

For those of you who see no good choice in this presidential election, remember that you are not just voting for one person— you are actually voting for thousands of people that come along with the top of the ticket, some of whom will affect our country for generations. There are literally thousands of political appointees at several levels of government, including Supreme court judges and about 300 other judges, whom the President will appoint. Those people will attempt to make America in the image of their party platform. Those are two radically different images and two radically different futures for you and your children.

To see how radically different they are, take a look at this very helpful chart that quotes directly from the two party platforms.  It shows where the Democrats and Republicans stand on issues important to most Christians.  Given this knowledge, it is also a dereliction of duty when you fail to vote.

Religious Liberty Under Fire—And What You Can Do About It

Religious liberty is in serious jeopardy. There is a recent bill in California, Senate Bill 1146, which jeopardizes the future of faith-based institutions. In the words of Biola president Barry Corey, “Never has there been proposed law in the history of our nation that would be as restrictive on the religious rights of faith-based colleges and universities. We believe this is just the beginning of an erosion of religious freedom which is not only a constitutional right but also necessary for the flourishing of our democracy.”[i]

This bill should come as no surprise. In their opinion for the 2015 SCOTUS ruling, Obergefell v. Hodges, which legalized same-sex marriage, the majority judges claimed that expanding marriage to include same-sex couples would “pose no risk of harm to themselves or third parties.” However, the minority judges noted that the new ruling would help portray dissenters as “bigots” and also raise serious concerns for religious liberty. Judges Roberts, Scalia, and Thomas conclude:

Hard questions arise when people of faith exercise religion in ways that may be seen to conflict with the new right to same-sex marriage—when, for example, a religious college provides married student housing only to opposite-sex married couples, or a religious adoption agency declines to place children with same-sex married couples. Indeed, the Solicitor General candidly acknowledged that the tax exemptions of some religious institutions would be in question if they opposed same-sex marriage. See Tr. of Oral Arg. on Question 1, at 36–38. There is little doubt that these and similar questions will soon be before this Court. Unfortunately, people of faith can take no comfort in the treatment they receive from the majority today.[ii]

These words were unmistakably prophetic. If passed into law, SB 1146 would dramatically narrow religious freedom in California. It would open up faith-based institutions to unprecedented lawsuits, prevent them from consistently operating according to their religious convictions, and jeopardize Cal Grant access for California students who wish to use this aid to study at Christian schools.

Barry Corey concludes: “This bill, if it became law, would diminish religious liberty in California higher education. It would unfairly harm faith-based institutions and it would weaken the rich educational diversity of our state. Many religious freedom observers are rightly worried that this bill could set a precedent that threatens faith-based institutions nationwide.”

If you are concerned about the freedom of all Americans, including those who are religious, pleases consider a few steps:

  • Contact your legislators with this easy-to-use guide.
  • Share any helpful articles like this blog, or this article by Barry Corey (from the OC Register).
  • Write a blog yourself, or speak out against SB 1146 in whatever platform you have.
  • Contact any state lawmakers or influencers in Sacramento you might know and educate them about the bill.
  • Pray that faith-based institutions in California, and beyond, can continue to operate in a manner consistent with their beliefs.

Sean McDowell, Ph.D. is a professor of Christian Apologetics at Biola University, a best-selling author of over 15 books, an internationally recognized speaker, and a part-time high school teacher. Follow him on Twitter: @sean_mcdowell and his blog: seanmcdowell.org.


[i] Email from Barry Corey to Biola community entitled, “Help Spread Word about Threat to Faith-Based Colleges,” July 18, 2016.

[ii] Obergefell v. Hodges: https://www.oyez.org/cases/2014/14-556.

The Constitution Is My Speech Permit

My former attorneys at the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) recently filed a lawsuit they never should have had to file. In the suit, they are representing a Christian student group at North Carolina State University (NCSU). At issue is an NCSU policy requiring a permit for any kind of student speech or communication anywhere on campus. This policy is a direct affront to the First Amendment, which is the only permit needed to speak on a public university campus.

The policy itself is outrageous. To make matters worse, NCSU only selectively enforces the policy as they did against the plaintiffs, Grace Christian Life, which is a registered student organization. Elevating audacity to a Zen art form, petty university officials told these Christians that they needed a permit to speak with other students in, of all places, the student union.

The controversy began in September of 2015 when NCSU officials demanded members of Grace Christian Life stop approaching other students in the Talley Student Union to engage in religious discussions or even to simply invite them to attend Grace Christian Life events. So the group cooperated and obtained a permit to set up a table in the student union in January.

When Grace Christian Life set up its “approved” table they were told that they could speak with other students either from a) behind the table or b) anywhere in the room. However, when the students left the table on the permitted date, a member of the Student Involvement Office approached them and told them they must stick with option “a” and remain behind the table.

The legally insurmountable problem for NCSU is that the university has not placed the same restriction on any other group. Grace Christian Life members observed and wisely documented other groups freely speaking with other students and handing out literature. These groups have done so either without a permit or outside of the area reserved by their permit. The suit alleges that the groups have done so in full view of the very same officials that stopped Grace Christian Life from engaging in their First Amendment protected activity.

NCSU claims authority to do this under University Regulation 07.25.12, which requires a permit for speech the policy defines as “any distribution of leaflets, brochures, or other written material, or oral speech to a passersby (sic)….” Furthermore, the policy specifies that any person “wishing to conduct any form of solicitation on University premises must have the written permission of Student Involvement in advance.”

The NCSU policy is so broad that it makes no distinction between commercial and non-commercial speech such as the religious speech at issue in the case at hand. To borrow a phrase from the late Justice Scalia, if this policy is narrowly tailored it is by the standards of Omar the Tentmaker rather than Versace.

The NCSU speech permit controversy is just the latest in a seemingly endless string of embarrassing episodes on our nation’s campuses. Each episode is just another pathetic re-run with precisely the same plot:

A university policy says ones thing. The Constitution says another. The university maintains that their handbook trumps the Constitution. The court rules that the Constitution trumps the handbook. In the wake of an embarrassing defeat brought on by willfully uneducable educators the public is left footing the bill for attorney fees and damages.

To make matters worse, this incident never could have taken place at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill (UNC-CH). After years of trampling the First Amendment, UNC-CH got rid of all of its unconstitutional policies – thus earning a “green light” rating from the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE). The people at FIRE only give these ratings to schools without any policies that threaten free speech. Sadly, only 22 of our nation’s universities have earned that “green light” distinction.

It is a sad irony that a progressive campus like UNC-CH now shows greater tolerance for Christian speech than a more conservative university like NCSU. For that reason alone, alumni should demand that NCSU administrators stop defending the indefensible and tarnishing the school’s reputation.

After years of reporting on campus free speech cases I have come to realize that most college administrators need to be sent back to high school to take basic civics. Those who still don’t get it need to be schooled in a court of law.

This column was originally published at TownHall.com The Constitution Is My Speech Permit


Dr. Mike Adams is a Professor of Criminology at University of North Carolina at Wilmington, and author of several books including Letters to a Young Progressive:  How to Avoid Wasting Your Life Protesting Things You Don’t Understand.

Six Reasons North Carolina Got It Right

Lies are born the moment someone thinks the truth is dangerous. Apparently, a good number of business and sports executives think the truth about North Carolina’s “bathroom bill” (HB2) is dangerous, that’s why they are lying about it. Well, perhaps I should be a bit more charitable: some may not be overtly lying about it, but they are expressing their disapproval without knowing what the bill actually does.

On Monday Lt. Governor Dan Forest, who helped call the special session to pass HB2, called the executive in charge at one large protesting company and simply asked if him if he or anyone there had a actually read the bill.

He admitted they had not. They just labeled it “discriminatory” without even reading it.

Who needs the truth when you make so much “progress” by ignoring the truth and engaging in the very bigotry and name-calling you claim to oppose?

The truth is they, like other companies who haven’t bothered to read the bill, are simply taking their marching orders from the misnamed “Human Rights Campaign,” who have the audacity to claim that men have a human right to have access to women and girls in public bathrooms, and that any acknowledgement of the biological differences between men and women is somehow discrimination against people who prefer same-sex relationships.

In the name of diversity, I’d like to offer a different view in six points:

1. All good laws discriminate against behaviors not people. No one is being discriminated against with HB2, which discriminates against the behaviorof a man using the women’s restroom. If any law is wrongly discriminatory it is the bad law passed by the Charlotte City council to create this controversy. It actually discriminates against women and children by making public restrooms unsafe for them. (The ACLU has already filed a lawsuit alleging HB2 does not provide “equal protection” to some folks. Ironically, it’s only because of HB2 that women and children get “equal protection” from predators in public bathrooms!)

2. People are equal, but their behaviors are not. Good laws treat all peopleequally, but not all of their behaviors equally. In fact, the very reason laws exist at all is because all behaviors are not equal and must be treated differently for the benefit of individuals and society. HB2 discriminates against no one who identifies as LGBT. The law merely sets a safe public bathroom use (behavior) for everyone, and keeps employment law consistent across the state (more on this below).

3. Your identity is not in your feelings but your biology. I can’t believe there is actually a need to say this, but many on the Left are living in their own invented reality and they are demanding that we live in it too. The reason we’ve always had separate bathrooms is because of biological sexual differences, not because of feelings or “gender identity.” HB2 simply says that people will use public bathrooms that align with their biological sex as found on their birth certificate.

How could this possibly be controversial? Are we to risk the safety of millions of women and children in public restrooms because an extremely small number of people are experiencing a mismatch between their psychology and their biology? Good public policy does not risk the physical safety of women and children because an extreme few have a preference for a different bathroom.

Moreover, HB2 actually accommodates people who have had so-called “sex change” operations. They can use the bathroom of their choice provided they’ve had their birth certificate changed. It also affects only public restrooms. Companies and other private organizations can adopt any policy they want for their workplace. Does the NBA and the NFL allow men in women’s bathrooms? Does Apple? Cisco? Marriott? Lowes? Then why are they insisting the government force everyone to do so? Why do they think North Carolina is wrongly discriminating when they are doing exactly the same thing in their businesses?

And why aren’t these holier-than-thou folks threatening to pull their business from Iran and Saudi Arabia where they are actually murdering homosexuals? Their moral outrage is not only misdirected, it shows that they’re willing to put women and children at risk by kowtowing to a deceptive special interest group, but they’ll sacrifice nothing to save the people they say they care about by confronting real evil abroad.

4. The danger is real from sexual predators in women’s restrooms. If you don’t think so, then watch this video. Just the first six minutes are chilling enough.

5. Race and LGBT are not the same: Race is not a behavior and race has no impact on someone’s behavior. But homosexuality is a behavior and LGBT political goals are all about imposing certain leftist behaviors on others, from forcing people to participate in same sex marriage ceremonies to allowing men in women’s restrooms.

The Human Rights Campaign also wants to use the strong arm of government to force companies to give employment preference to a long list of sexual orientations. This would mean that someone who claimed a homosexual orientation—or someone who exhibited the behavior of cross-dressing at work for example—would have more job security than John or Jane Doe. How so? Because if a company has to downsize, who are they going to let go—one of the helpless Does, or the person who can bring a costly lawsuit alleging “discrimination”?

6. Opposition to harmful behavior is not bigotry. It is wise. Unfortunately, some on the Left and in business falsely equate opposition to a behavior as prejudice toward people who engage in that behavior. That’s the central fallacy in virtually every argument the Human Rights Campaign puts out—if you don’t agree with every aspect of LGBT behavior or their political goals, you are somehow bigoted against people who identify that way. If political opposition is bigotry, then the activists at the Human Rights Campaign are bigots for opposing conservatives. The truth is conservatives have good reasons based in public health and safety for not wanting to advocate same-sex marriage or men in women’s bathrooms. But it’s much easier for the Human Rights Campaign to ignore those arguments and call people names.

The truth is just too dangerous.

 


 

Six Reasons North Carolina Got It Right is also featured at TownHall.com

Scalia Defended Democracy: Liberals Subvert It

“I write separately to call attention to this Court’s threat to American democracy,” wrote Justice Scalia in his dissent from last year’s Supreme Court decision, where five unelected judges imposed same-sex marriage on all 320 million citizens.

“This practice of constitutional revision by an unelected committee of nine, always accompanied (as it is today) by extravagant praise of liberty, robs the People of the most important liberty they asserted in the Declaration of Independence and won in the Revolution of 1776: the freedom to govern themselves.”

Exactly.

“A system of government that makes the People subordinate to a committee of nine unelected lawyers does not deserve to be called a democracy.”

Right again.

In fact, Justice Scalia was nearly always right. And what he called “originalism” is the only judicial philosophy that protects the American ideal that the people have the right to govern themselves.

“Well, there are many legitimate philosophies of judicial review,” you say.

Not if you believe in democracy, or a representative republic. Only originalism, which insists on interpreting the Constitution by its original meaning, protects democratic rule. The people spoke when they originally passed the Constitution. And they can speak again through the amendment process.

But when justices take it upon themselves to amend the Constitution from the bench, then “we the people” no longer govern ourselves. We are, instead, governed by unelected justices who bypass democracy to impose their will on the rest of us.

“Oh, but the Constitution is a ‘living’ document!” say the liberals.

If it is, then we have no Constitution at all. Why have a written Constitution if justices can interpret it anyway they want? Why have red lights if drivers are free at anytime to interpret them as green lights?

Actually, in one sense the Constitution is a living document, but not in the sense liberals advocate. The Constitution is “living” through the amendment process built into the document itself. It is not living through the whims of liberal justices.

“Ah, but the amendment process is too arduous,” you say.

It’s supposed to be arduous because changing the highest law of the land can have serious negative consequences. When the court unilaterally changes the Constitution, it not only subverts democracy, but it often moves important fences without considering why they were placed there in the first place. Their cavalier changing of abortion and marriage laws, for example, is killing or hurting millions of innocent children.

Moreover, the separation of powers created by our Constitution recognizes the fact that power tends to corrupt — another reason why no one branch should be able to unilaterally alter the law.

As Justice Scalia put it, “If you think aficionados of a living Constitution want to bring you flexibility, think again. You think the death penalty is a good idea? Persuade your fellow citizens to adopt it. You want a right to abortion? Persuade your fellow citizens and enact it. That’s flexibility.”

“Oh Frank,” you say, “Scalia was so extreme. Why can’t we take a moderate interpretation of the text?”

Justice Scalia had a brilliant response to that as well: “What is a moderate interpretation of the text? Halfway between what it really means and what you’d like it to mean?”

You want it to mean something else? You can change the meaning, as Justice Scalia observed, by convincing your fellow citizens at the ballot box!

In fact, that’s how it’s been for most of our country’s history. To show you how much our country long-believed what Justice Scalia championed — that the people, not judges, are the legislators — consider the fact that even moral no-brainers, such as the right not be enslaved, and the rights of blacks and women to vote, were enshrined in the Constitution by the amendment process, not by judges legislating from the bench.

A hundred years ago, no judges thought that the Fourteenth Amendment granted women the right to vote. A Constitutional amendment had to be passed to recognize the right. Yet, today five justices think that the Fourteenth Amendment somehow grants a woman the right to marry another woman. (Newsflash: if the equal protection clause didn’t guarantee a woman the right to vote when it was passed, it certainly doesn’t guarantee her right to marry another woman today!)

If you’re for so-called same-sex marriage (really genderless marriage), you might like the result of that decision. But you should be very afraid of the process by which that result was achieved. For if justices can evolve the Constitution according to their own whims, one day they might declare that your rights have “evolved” in a direction you don’t like.

Consider the “right” to abortion invented in 1973. If you’re a liberal, is that “right” subject to “evolution”? What if a judge comes along one day and declares that the U.S. Constitution has “evolved” to guarantee the unborn a right to life. Would you accept that idea of constitutional evolution?

And what’s to stop liberal justices from unilaterally “evolving” the Bill of Rights, so your rights to free speech, religion, association, and to bear arms are diminished? The only way to stop them is to put more Justice Scalias on the court. Indeed, only originalist judges should be confirmed on the Court. After all, you don’t need to worry about losing your freedoms to a judge’s political preferences if he is an originalist because his political preferences have nothing to do with his job! On the other hand, liberals are not committed to the defending the Constitution; they are committed to inserting their own “reasoned judgment” into the Constitution. They don’t trust the people or the democratic process but subvert them through judicial activism.

A liberal Supreme Court is not only a threat to democracy; it’s a threat to stability. If we don’t respect the rule of law, we will slip further into a state of corruption and instability common in so many other countries, where people rule by intimidation and political paybacks rather than adherence to the law as written. To maintain America we must respect the process by which we make, interpret and apply law.

Antonin Scalia consistently did that, even ruling against his own policy preferences when the law demanded he do so. He was a witty, winsome, articulate and unwavering defender of the most American of ideals — that we have the right to govern ourselves.

Please pray for his family. And pray for our freedoms that have become less secure with his passing.

Dead Things Don’t Grow

Author’s Note: The debate discussed in this blog post can be seen at the bottom article.

Many who hold the pro-choice position subscribe to a postmodern worldview. They are not arguing that we can kill the unborn because a woman’s right to choose trumps the right to life of the unborn. They are arguing that ambiguity on the question of when life begins supplies adequate justification for abortion on demand. The argument from ambiguity was central to former ACLU president Nadine Strossen’s presentation when I debated her recently on the campus of Oregon State University (OSU).

I was pleased that Nadine’s opening argument relied heavily on the claim that we cannot know when life begins. This played into the strategy I had chosen prior to the onset of the debate. Nadine did two other things I had hoped she would do in her opening statement: 1) Argue that Roe v. Wade was a moderate decision that balanced the competing interests of the individual and the state, and 2) argue that the Roe decision was necessary to stop the deaths of women who were dying as a result of unsafe abortions. In my own opening argument, which followed hers, I tried to establish two things:

1. There is clear consensus in the science of embryology that life begins at conception. Scientifically speaking, the unborn are distinct, living, whole human beings actively involved in the process of developing themselves from within from the very point of conception.

2. There is no difference between the adults we are today and the unborn humans we once were that would justify killing us at an earlier stage of development. In other words, there is no essential difference between a “human” and a “person.” Furthermore, any effort to justify abortion with philosophical distinctions among the living would invite systematic human inequality. At the end of the day, our society must choose between human equality and abortion. We simply cannot have both.

After we presented our opening statements, Nadine had an opportunity to offer a rebuttal. In that rebuttal, she challenged my claim that there was an absolute consensus among embryologists that life begins at conception. She quoted a source saying that the question could not be answered conclusively. This was a good tactic for Nadine to employ. She was obviously prepared. Fortunately, I had fully anticipated her move.

In my rebuttal, which followed hers, I drew on the work of Francis Beckwith. As Beckwith has previously written, Roe v. Wade concedes that the question of the parameters of a woman’s right to abortion is inextricably bound to the question of when life begins. Therefore, if someone is agnostic on the question of when life begins, they are also agnostic on the parameters of a woman’s right to choose. I began my rebuttal by establishing this crucial point.

Rather than conceding that there was a legitimate doubt about when life begins, I decided to reassert the point that the matter was settled. I did this by firing off numerous sources. Among them, I included former Planned Parenthood President Alan Guttmacher and Princeton Philosopher Peter Singer. I wanted to establish the fact that many honest pro-choice advocates conceded the point. In fact, they have done so for decades.

Fortunately, OSU Socratic Club debates are structured in such a way as to allow opponents to have an informal half-hour exchange following the opening statements and rebuttals. During that exchange, Nadine came across as cordial and well informed. She also impressed me as sincerely interested in my views on a number of issues related to the debate topic. She was a worthy and articulate opponent.

One downside to Nadine’s choice of questions was that they sometimes gave the appearance of trying to divert the issue from the question of the status of the unborn. When Nadine interjected the phrase “potential life” into our discussion I tried to seize the moment to refocus the debate. I asked her whether by using the phrase “potential life” she meant to deny that the unborn were humans (in a biological sense) or persons (in a philosophical sense). Her answer was “both.”

Having established that the unborn have separate DNA and that there is cell division and metabolism from the point of conception, I replied with the following: “But, Nadine, dead things don’t grow.” In fact, I said it twice during the exchange.

That statement ended up being the takeaway line from the entire debate. In fact, nearly everyone who saw the debate and spoke to me afterwards quoted that one line. It was effective because Nadine and I were in danger of getting into a war of quoting texts no one has ever read. But “dead things don’t grow” was an unmistakable appeal to common sense that I believe solidified my central thesis and allowed the pro-life position to prevail in the overall exchange.

Therefore, I would like to conclude this column by thanking my friend Jay Watts for supplying me with that line, which I saw in a recent episode of “Life is Best” – a series hosted by my friend Scott Klusendorf. That series may be the best thing Scott has ever done for the pro-life movement – and that is really saying something.

My advice to pro-lifers debaters who wish to compete (and prevail!) in debates on hostile turf is twofold. First, read everything Francis Beckwith writes on the topic of abortion. Second, watch every video, speech, and debate featuring Scott Klusendorf speaking and teaching on the topic of abortion.

The best place to start is right here: http://www.lifeisbest.tv.

 

The Universal Problem We Don’t Want to Admit

How do we fix a world filled with murder, rape, betrayal, adultery, fraud, theft, sexual exploitation, pornography, bullying, abortion, terrorism, cheating, lying, child abuse, racism, assault, drugs, robbery, and countless other evils?

There will be no solutions unless we are honest about their underlying causes. Although we don’t want to admit it, the truth is that every one of those world problems can be traced back to a problem with the human heart.

No one knows that better than an honest cop. My friend Jim Wallace is a cold-case homicide detective in California. He’s been featured four times on Dateline for solving crimes that are decades old. He’s noticed that every crime he has ever solved can be traced back to one or more of these three motives: financial greed, relational lust, or the pursuit of power (money, sex and power). We want these things so much that we are willing to use immoral means to get them.

In other words, the sick condition of our world is preceded and caused by the sick condition of our hearts.  That’s why we won’t improve the external world until we first improve our internal worlds.

You might think that this doesn’t really apply to you. After all, you may be congratulating yourself because you haven’t committed any of the crimes listed at the top of this column.

“Well, not most of them anyway,” you say. “Who hasn’t lied or stolen something?   But I’m better than most people!”

Maybe so. But your very act of self-justification proves the point—instead of admitting our faults, our natural inclination is to minimize them or cover them up while claiming moral superiority.

We don’t want to admit this because it hurts our pride, which is also a heart issue. “Don’t tell me I’m wrong! You’re offending me! You’re hurting my feelings!”

It’s no wonder free speech is under attack in the culture and on campus. To channel Jack Nicholson, we “can’t handle the truth” because the truth exposes the fact that we are not really as good as we claim we are. We can’t bear the fact that we are broken, narcissistic creatures who find it much easier and more natural to be selfish rather than selfless.

This affects even people who deny real right and wrong. For example, leading atheist Richard Dawkins has declared, “The universe we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is at the bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil and no good. Nothing but blind pitiless indifference. . . . DNA neither knows nor cares. DNA just is, and we dance to its music.”

But Dawkins doesn’t act like he actually believes that. He recently insisted that a woman has the right to choose an abortion and asserted that it would be “immoral” to give birth to a baby with Down syndrome. According to Dawkins, the “right to choose” is a good thing and giving birth to Down syndrome children is a bad thing.

Well, which is it? Is there really good and evil, or are we just moist robots dancing to the music of our DNA? If there is no objective morality, then there is no “right” to anything, whether it is abortion or the right to life.

And if there is no objective morality, then why does everyone, including atheists, try to justify their own immoral behavior? As C.S. Lewis observed, “If we do not believe in decent behavior, why should we be so anxious to make excuses for not having behaved decently? The truth is, we believe in decency so much—we feel the Rule or Law pressing on us so— that we cannot bear to face the fact that we are breaking it, and consequently we try to shift the responsibility.”

Ironically, when we try to shift the responsibility for our immoral actions, we often appeal to other moral principles to justify ourselves:

  • I used my expense account for personal items because I work harder than what they pay me, and it’s unjust that my boss makes so much more than me.
  • I ran off with my assistant because she really loves me, unlike my wife who doesn’t give me the attention I deserve.
  • I don’t have time for my kids because I’m too busy working hard to provide for their future.
  • I had an abortion because it’s immoral to give birth to a Down syndrome child.

Even our excuses show that we really, deep down, believe in objective morality. We often deceive ourselves into believing that something immoral is really moral (like abortion), but, as Thomas Jefferson famously declared, certain universal moral truths are “self evident.” All rational people know this. Unfortunately, our tendency for moral self-deception is also universal. We know what’s right, but we make excuses for doing wrong by trying to appeal to what is right!

Where does all this leave us?

There is hope. Regardless of what you believe about the Bible, what can’t be denied is that the Bible nails the truth about human nature and our deceptive human hearts. The book of Genesis admits that “every intent of the thoughts of [mankind’s] heart was only evil continually.” Jeremiah wrote, “The heart is deceitful and wicked, who can know it?” Jesus declared, that people “love darkness rather than light.” And Paul observed that we “suppress the truth in unrighteousness” in order to continue in our sins.

But the Bible doesn’t just accurately state the problem; it also reveals the only possible solution. Because of our moral failings, God’s infinite love compelled Him to add humanity over his Deity and come to earth in the person of Jesus that first Christmas. The incarnation was necessary because an infinitely just Being cannot allow sin to go unpunished. Instead of punishing us, God found in Jesus an innocent human substitute to voluntarily take the punishment for us.

Our pride tells us that we can rescue ourselves, but we can’t. No matter how much we try to justify ourselves or pledge to do better in the future, we can’t escape the fact that we’re guilty for what we’ve already done.

So it’s important to ask this Christmas season, “Have you accepted the pardon Jesus came to offer you? And have you asked Him into your life to help heal your self-centered heart?” If not, why not? He’s the only true solution to the world’s evils and the heart problem that afflicts each one of us.

Do Objective Moral Truths Exist in Reality?

The moral argument for God’s existence is often presented as follows:

Premise 1: If God does not exist, objective moral values and duties do not exist.
Premise 2: Objective moral values and duties do exist.
Conclusion: Therefore, God exists.

As with any valid syllogism, the moral argument can be defeated by proving one of the supporting premises to be false. In many conversations with atheists, I’ve encountered several who agree with premise 1, but deny the truth of premise 2. Is this a rational position, or do we have good reason to believe that objective moral values and duties do in fact exist?

Before we look at the evidence, let’s define clearly the boundaries of the premise. The claim is that our universe contains moral categories of values (good and evil) and duties (right and wrong actions) that exist independently of the opinion of anyone and that apply to the actions and motivations of all persons. Therefore, the topic at hand is a question of ontology—whether these categories actually exist, and not epistemology—how we know these categories. How we come to knowledge of morality is irrelevant to the question; whether we know the speed limit on the streets of our city has no effect on the existence of such a limit. In my hometown, you will still be cited for speeding, even if the road is not posted with speed limit signs!

Secondly, the claim is not interested in whether one believes in objective morality. Belief in, or lack of belief in a truth claim does not make the claim true or false. You may not believe that our town has a speed limit; you can still be given a citation in spite of your lack of belief. What the claim addresses is whether these moral categories exist in reality, not in someone’s belief system.

So the question on the table presents us with two different types of realities; a moral universe in which objective moral categories exist, and an amoral universe that contains only subjective moral categories (where each person’s standard of right, wrong, good, and evil is defined by themselves and applies only to themselves). In order to determine which of these descriptions applies to our own universe, let’s take a look at what both of these realities would be like, and then see which most closely describes the features of our own universe.

In an Amoral Universe, objective moral categories do not exist. No action can be called objectively evil; while one might dislike another’s action, no external standard exists by which any action can be called good or evil. In the overall scheme of things, feeding your child is no better or worse than beheading your child, and any feelings one has to the contrary is simply opinion. In this universe, these moral opinions have no basis in reality; that is to say, nothing objective exists on which to base such a concept.

In a Moral Universe, objective moral categories do exist. Any action can fall into one of three categories:

  • Moral actions — actions that conform to the objective moral standard
  • Immoral actions — actions that violate the objective moral standard
  • Amoral actions — actions which are not addressed by the objective moral standard

While legality is not a synonym for morality, the two are somewhat analogous. It is legal in the United States to peacefully and publicly speak against an policy implemented by our government. It is illegal to murder the government official who is responsible for creating this policy. It is a-legal to read the public information related to the policy. Freedom of speech is expressly permitted by the law, murder is expressly forbidden by the law, and reading public documents is simply not addressed by the law.

As an objective feature of the universe, and not of an individual human, these categories apply to all humans, just as the law of gravity applies to all humans. Just as there’s no escaping the laws of physics for physical creatures, the laws of morality are just as binding on moral creatures. However, the moral categories are necessarily different from other laws of the universe in that they are prescriptive (describing how things ought to be) and not descriptive (describing how things are).

Having described these two universes, let us now consider our own. Which of these two descriptions best describes what we see in our own actual universe? I offer here two reasons why I contend that the description of the moral universe more accurately describes our universe.

The idea of an amoral universe is existentially self-refuting.

The concept of an amoral universe, thought not logically self-refuting, is existentially self-refuting. There is no logical incoherence in the statement “No objective moral values and duties exist.” The problem arises when one attempts to describe how one should live in such a universe… for the instant one makes such an attempt, they have invalidate the concept. In an amoral universe, “how one should live” is meaningless… no standard exists to describe how one should live.

Without considering the implications of such a universe deeply, it’s easy to claim, “Objective moral truths do not exist; I have the right to do as I please!” Yet, this statement makes a moral claim to a “right” while denying moral reality. If you believe that others ought to allow you to live according to the dictates of your own will and your own conscience, then you are appealing to objective morality to justify what others “ought” to do.

The logically correct view in an amoral universe is that everyone will do as they do with no moral implications at all. Yet, atheists commonly make moral demands; for example, that theists “stop imposing their morality”. This demand certainly assumes that theists “ought” to act in a particular way.  Yet, without objective morality, no such “ought” can exist.

Or think of it this way; we are beings who can conceive and consider many different possible courses of action. Does any course of action exist that should always happen, if possible? Does any course of action exist that ought never to happen? Ought theists to never torture atheists for fun? Ought atheists to rebut theists who claim that objective moral categories exist?

If one single course of action ought never to happen, then objective morality must exist. But let’s not get ahead of the evidence; whether it is immoral to torture atheists for fun (a question of epistemology) is irrelevant to the point—the only way that such a statement can logically be true is if there is an applicable objective standard by which we can judge the action in question.

The idea of moral categories would be unintelligible in an amoral universe.

In an amoral universe, one is hard-pressed to determine how the idea of moral categories would come to be. While in such a universe, any moral standard is necessarily subjective, such a subjective morality could have absolutely no basis in reality.

While we certainly conceive of ideas that are fictional, most, if not all of these fictional concepts have their roots in reality; unicorns are an extension of horses; werewolves are a blending of human and animal, a cyclops is an oversized human with a single eye. None of these concepts are completely manufactured out of nothingness.

Yet for the concept of subjective morality to appear in an amoral universe is similar to the idea of blue and green appearing in a colorless universe. It is impossible to convey the richness and experience of color to a man blind from birth, because such a man has no basis on which to relate to such a description. While you might explain that blue is a certain wavelength of light, that doesn’t convey to the blind man what light is, or the experience of seeing blue. To the blind man, color and light do not exist in his experience.

But in an amoral universe, moral categories have no basis of existence in reality. In a world where color had no basis of existence in reality, all would be as the blind man above, completely incapable of understanding the concept of color. Even if one conceived of such a thing as green or red in their imagination, they could never communicate this idea to others without a shared reference point. For purely subjective concepts, such shared reference points cannot exist.

It’s been argued that the fact that different cultures and religions have differing concepts of morality is evidence against objective morality. However, this is not the case. My wife and I frequently disagree on colors; I’ll say something is blue, while she insists that it is green. When it’s brought in to sunlight, we usually find that she’s right!

But notice that while we may disagree on the color of the object, neither of us is claiming that it has no color at all! In order for us to have a meaningful conversation about the object’s color, both of us must assume that color exists, and that the object does have a color. If color does not exist, then our conversation is meaningless, unexplainable, and could only be called delusional.

So the fact that every single person who has reached age two seems to have conversations about what men should and should not do seems to be strong evidence that they actually perceive something in the universe that actually exists. Whether politician, priest, parent, or protester, all make the claim that men should behave in a certain way. It seems remarkably myopic to consider all who hold such views to be sharing the same delusion!

For example, Christianity teaches that we should love our enemies, and as much as it is possible, we should live in peace with all men. Some branches of Islam believe that one should behead their enemies. Again, for this point, which view is correct is irrelevant; but in order for anyone to have a meaningful conversation about which view (if either) is correct, one must assume that a correct view does in fact exist. This requires an objective moral standard.

The implications of these two lines of evidence seem inescapable; unless objective moral categories of good, evil, right, and wrong actually exist in reality, our tendency to think in these terms is unexplainable. But to be fair, we’ve only looked at one side of the evidence. In a later post, I will address the arguments against this view.

The Pope: Income Inequality or Poverty?

What’s really the problem with which the Pope should be concerned: is it income inequality or poverty? Philosopher Ed Feser, who happens to be Catholic himself, brilliantly points out that inequality is not only a reality, but a necessary one.  Society would be impossible without certain inequalities in talents and income.

Quoting scholars and previous Popes, Feser makes the case that it’s poverty not income inequality that is the problem. Here’s an excerpt from Feser’s post:

The basic idea is very simple and not really original (I’ve made it before myself, e.g. here) but cannot be restated too often given that so many people appear to lack a grasp of the obvious. It is that equality as such is not a good thing and inequality as such is not a bad thing. Suppose everyone was so poor that it was difficult for anyone even to secure basic needs like food, shelter, and clothing, but no one had any more than anyone else. It would be ridiculous to say “Well, at least there’s a silver lining here for which we can be grateful: Everyone’s equal.” Or suppose everyone had a standard of living at least as good as that of the average millionaire, but some were multi-billionaires. It would be ridiculous to say “It is unjust that so many have to make do with mere millions while a few get to enjoy billions.”

When people complain about economic inequality, this can make sense from a moral point of view only if talk of inequality is really a proxy for something else. Most obviously, it certainly makes sense to lament that some people live in poverty, and it makes sense to call on those who have wealth (and indeed in some cases and to some extent to require those who have wealth) to help those who live in poverty. But the problem here is not that the poor have less than others. The problem is that they have less than they need. The problem, that is to say, is poverty, not inequality.

It’s well worth reading his entire post here.  Also, download the CrossExamined App to listen to my interview with Dr. Feser on the “Unmoved Mover.”

For the best book I’ve seen on the intersection between economics and Christianity, pick up a copy of Money Greed and God by Jay Richards.  You can also hear my interviews with Jay on the app.

Should You Do Your Job or Obey Your Conscience?

Should Christians ever disobey their government? Some say no. But Kim Davis sides with Martin Luther King and thinks civil disobedience is justified. Ms. Davis is the Rowan County Kentucky clerk who spent five days in jail for refusing to put her name on same sex marriage licenses. Claiming to be a new Christian, Ms. Davis is also a long-time Democrat.

In court last week, Judge David Bunning told Davis: “The court cannot condone the willful disobedience of its lawfully issued order.” He said that “if you give people the opportunity to choose which orders they follow, that’s what potentially causes problems.”

Judge Bunning is absolutely right. This is the kind of chaos that results when people do not respect the law. But I’m not referring to Kim Davis—I’m referring to the United States Supreme Court. As I’ve written before, and the multiple dissents state more eloquently, there is no justification in the Constitution for judicially imposing genderless marriage on every state in the union. Five unelected justices simply imposed their own law on 330 million people.

But does that justify civil disobedience? Where do you draw the line?

Certainly, there is a line somewhere. After all, we laud those behind the Underground Railroad who freed slaves and those who protected Jews in Nazi Germany. While bad marriage laws are obviously not as serious, consider a more equivalent scenario: Suppose the Supreme Court decided to drop the age of consent in every state to twelve years old (a position Ruth Bader Ginsberg supported before she became a Supreme Court Justice). Would you think that Kim Davis should be forced to endorse the marriage of a 75 year-old man who brought a twelve year-old girl into her office? I hope you can see that there is a line and it’s not far from Kim Davis.

Liberals believe in civil disobedience—when it suits their causes. Despite chanting, “Do your job!” outside Kim Davis’s office, liberals were rejoicing when San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom ordered clerks to violate California law and issue marriage licenses to same sex couples in 2004. They certainly were not chanting “Do your job” outside of Attorney General Eric Holder’s office when he told the states last year to ignore their own laws that defined marriage as the union of a man and a woman. And liberals were not asking a federal judge to throw President Obama in jail when he refused to do his job by defending the Defense of Marriage Act in Court.

So just ten minutes ago liberals believed that defying marriage laws was heroic! Now their blatant double standard is all too obvious—they laud civil disobedience when it’s used to advance the religion of sex and denounce it when it’s used to protect Christian or natural law beliefs.

But on what authority does one defy the government? One man who wanted a same-sex marriage license asked Kim Davis on “what authority” was she not issuing licenses. She cited God.

Yet, the question needs to be asked of both sides. By what authority did Newsom, Holder, Obama and other liberal politicians defy the law? They certainly weren’t citing God or the Creator cited in our Declaration of Independence who gives us unalienable rights. But without an authority beyond man’s law, there is no authority for their actions nor is there any objective standard to ground unalienable rights. Without God, every right claim is merely a human opinion. At least Kim Davis, agree with her or not, is citing an authority beyond herself.

Civil disobedience has rich precedent in the United States. In fact, our country was founded on it largely to secure religious freedom. Civil disobedience also has precedent in the Bible. When Pharaoh ordered Hebrew midwives to murder all Hebrew boys, they disobeyed and even lied to the authorities (Exodus 1). And Daniel and his friends peacefully defied laws that contracted God’s commands. Likewise, when the Jewish authorities told John and Peter to stop telling people the good news that Jesus paid for your sins and rose from the dead, they disobeyed saying that they would obey God rather than men (Acts 4).

Therefore, the principle for Christians is this: civil disobedience is necessary when a government compels you to sin or prevents you from doing something God commands you to do. You don’t disobey the government merely because it permits others to sin—only when it compels you to do so. Kim Davis thinks that line has been crossed.

It’s actually not hard to avoid crossing the line. Both parties can be accommodated as Judge Bunning finally figured out when he released Davis yesterday. In North Carolina, we passed a law to allow people like Kim Davis to opt out of endorsing relationships that violated their religious or moral beliefs. Since other government employees are more than happy to issue licenses, no one is inconvenienced or forced to violate conscience. We do this for far more serious issues than weddings. For example, even during a time of war when we draft people to defend the country, we allow for conscientious objectors to opt out. If we can allow exemptions for government employees involved in protecting the very existence of our nation, we can certainly allow exemptions for government employees involved in weddings!

Will the Kentucky legislature act when it returns in January to pass such a law? Unfortunately, I doubt the activists who are always demanding tolerance will tolerate such reasonableness. It seems that some people just can’t live and let live. They will not rest until all opposition is crushed and everyone is forced to celebrate what they are doing.

If that’s your position, I have a question for you: Why would you want anyone who disagrees with your wedding to have anything to do with it? Go to another clerk, another florist, another photographer. Why force people to violate their conscience when there are so many other people willing to help you and celebrate with you?  After all, isn’t this supposed to be a time when “love wins?”

Apparently not. For some liberals “love wins” as long as everyone agrees with them. Those that disagree will not like the kind of “love” some liberals dish out. Are the same people who are chanting “love wins” some of the same people who issued death threats to Kim Davis? It’s certainly wasn’t the Christians.

The truth is Kim Davis and other victims of “tolerance” don’t want a holy war. Davis just doesn’t want her signature on the license. She suggested other government officials sign, and Judge Bunning finally agreed. But a law needs to be passed to prevent future problems.

North Carolina has led the way. It remains to be seen if liberals in Kentucky will accept that way. If their recent history is a guide, I’m afraid they will demand that every knee bow and every tongue confess the dogma of their secular religion.

(This column also appears at Townhall.com) and Stream.org 

Barbarians at the State

In this latest undercover video, an abortion “doctor” picks up a severed human leg with forceps.  She toys with other organs, and earlier in the video offered to “change her procedure” to deliver dead babies fully intact.  Who can defend this?   Why did 46 Senators vote to keep sending our money to these barbarians? (The video below starts at about the 10 minute mark of the original video produced by the Center for Medical Progress.)
U.S. Senate Roll Call Votes 114th Congress – 1st Session
                          
Planned Parenthood and their advocates in the Senate refuse to watch the videos, seek court orders to stop them, or try to divert the issue.  This exactly the kind of behavior the Apostle Paul warned us about in the first chapter of his letter to the Romans— suppressing the truth so we can do our favorite evil.
We used to sacrifice ourselves for our children; now we sacrifice our children for ourselves. God help us.

Why Doesn’t Everyone See Late-Term Abortions as Morally Wrong?

In the interest of trying to provide some moral clarity, I want to examine the type of abortion scenario for which it should be straightforward to morally assess. My thesis in this article is thus narrow in scope but still significant in that some pro-choice advocates take a strong stance that abortion is to never be restricted and is never morally wrong. If it can be shown that this view is mistaken it may awaken folks to more carefully examine other scenarios as well. Here is my simple argument:

  1. If it’s generally wrong to kill a newborn baby, then it’s wrong in many cases to kill a full-term baby.[1]
  2. It’s wrong to kill a newborn baby.

Thus, it’s wrong in many cases to kill a full-term baby in the womb.

I’ll not be arguing for premise 2 as I’m interested here only in convincing those who already believe it’s wrong to kill newborn babies. I’m not trying to assess all possible cases of abortion but am merely wanting to examine whether or not it’s morally permissible to kill a baby that is fully matured but still in the womb. Also, my thesis deals merely with morality – it’s a separate question how this impacts laws.

Consider that many babies are born prematurely and yet have no adverse long-term health impacts. So if one thinks that it’s morally wrong to kill a baby that has been born say a month or so prematurely why think it’s morally permissible to kill an unborn human baby that is has developed for 40 weeks? In this scenario both babies are healthy and were not the product of rape or incest and were born into or would be born into reasonably loving families.[2]

Many arguments by pro-choice advocates fail in this scenario. For example, some claim that the life of the unborn is not worth protecting because it’s smaller or less well developed than humans that have been born. My youngest son Kevin was 10 pounds 6 ounces at birth and my wife’s labor was medically induced. He definitely stood out in the nursery at the hospital – the song “one of these things is not like the others” comes to mind. So when my wife went into the hospital that morning, would it have been wrong to kill Kevin? There are plenty of “preemie” babies that are probably healthy enough now that had a birth weight a small fraction of what Kevin weighed while in the womb. Was it really morally justified to kill my son Kevin just before birth but would be considered murder to kill one of the babies in the neonatal intensive care unit? Was Kevin less of a human person than a baby already born just because he hadn’t traveled a half foot down the birth canal? Is there anything developmentally that happens in the last minutes of pregnancy or during delivery that suddenly endows the baby with self-awareness or cognitive abilities sufficient to go from no protection of life to full protection. It should concern pro-choice advocates that their arguments that the unborn lack attributes worthy of protection seem to apply equally well to toddlers or adults in a coma, etc. In this scenario unborn Kevin was more developmentally advanced and certainly much larger than preemie babies.

What about the mother? Does her right over her body trump the rights of the baby inside of her? Isn’t it the case scientifically that mother and fetus are distinct organisms anyway? A pregnant lady is not four-legged. In this scenario I’ve proposed note that the Mom has already carried the baby to full-term and endured most of the sacrifices that pregnancy entails. She can deliver the baby and deliver it up for adoption and be at least as well off as if she had to recover from surgically aborting a full-term baby. Are there negative impacts to the Mom from delivering the baby sufficient to override the rights of the baby to live? If the mother decides to keep the baby, isn’t it possible that the child becomes a treasure and joy to the mother? Isn’t there a maternal instinct to protect one’s offspring that may have negative impacts emotionally on the mother if she ends the life of her child?[3] Science supports the notion that mothers generally have strong desires to protect their babies – it would be surprising if there were no negative psychological impacts on Mom to end the life of her full-term baby.

My final question to those who advocate abortion without restrictions[4] – do you really think it would have been morally acceptable for your Mom to kill you minutes before you were born? Do you really want to encourage a moral principle that would have so prematurely ended your own existence?

____________________________________________________

[1] I say ‘generally’ wrong to avoid controversial scenarios – e.g. the only way to stop a terrorist from detonating a nuke that will kill a million people would somehow necessitate the death of an infant. Likewise I say ‘wrong in many cases’ because I want to examine only whether or not there are ‘some’ cases where abortion is immoral.

[2]This is not a merely hypothetical scenario since 7 states and the District of Colombia allow abortions at any time during pregnancy and without restrictions.

[3] Whether this instinct is put there by God and/or evolution is irrelevant to my argument. Certainly natural selection favors whatever encourages mothers to preserve the lives of their offspring.

[4 One should not infer that I favor abortion just because I’m choosing to examine a specific scenario in this blog.

On the Wrong Side of God, Evolution & Humanity

We’ve been told that people who want to maintain the man-woman definition of marriage are “on the wrong side of history.” Perhaps they are correct. Maybe “history,” which is determined largely by how people behave, will continue to move toward defining marriage as genderless in the 90 percent of governments that still maintain the natural definition. But what’s the take-away? Jump on the bandwagon?

Remember, Moses was on the wrong side of the golden calf. And Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation was on the wrong side of Dred Scott — the 1857 Supreme Court decision that declared blacks were “so far inferior that they had no rights.” Being on the wrong side of some popular moral assertion doesn’t mean your position is wrong.

Now that five judges say that same-sex marriage is a new “right,” let’s ask a more foundational question. Where do rights come from? Specifically, where does the right to same-sex marriage come from?

If you say that rights come from governments or constitutions, how can they really be rights? Isn’t a right something you have regardless of what a government says? For example, if same-sex marriage is really a right, then you actually possess that right even if you live under a government that doesn’t recognize same-sex marriage. You may not be able to exercise it, but you have it nonetheless.

Moreover, if there is no overarching moral standard that transcends human governments, then how could we prosecute Nazi soldiers for violating the rights of others? The Nazis were just following their government.

The truth is, rights don’t come from men or governments. Instead, “to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men,” as our Founders wrote in the Declaration of Independence. In fact, that was the entire point of the Declaration — the government of King George was usurping the rights of colonists, so we declared our independence.

Some argue that evolutionary theory provides us with a right to same-sex marriage, but one doesn’t even have to challenge evolutionary theory to see that something is wrong with that argument. If natural selection has a goal of survival and reproduction, then how could same-sex marriage help with that? Such marriages are an agreement to stay in a sterile and medically unhealthy relationship — the exact antithesis of survival. In fact, if everyone lived faithfully in same-sex marriage, the human race would end quite quickly. (I’m not saying that same-sex marriage laws would accomplish this, just that the observation shows a real moral and consequential difference between natural marriage and same-sex marriage).

An even more basic problem with the evolutionary argument is that moral rights don’t result from evolutionary processes. Rights are prescriptive and come from an authoritative person. Evolutionary processes are descriptive and have no authority to tell you what to do. How does a mutating genetic code have the moral authority to tell you how you ought to behave or how you ought to treat others?

The truth is, just as history describes what does happen and not what ought to happen, biology describes what does survive, not what ought to survive. Why should humans survive as opposed to anything else? And which humans? Mother Theresa? Hitler?

Those who want to follow evolutionary theory are led to a dark place. Murder would be OK if it helped you survive, thrive and better reproduce. Rape would be OK because if it helped propagate DNA.  And a society might justify exterminating the weak and undesirables to improve the gene pool and help the desirables survive. In fact, Hitler used evolutionary theory to justify just that. Homosexuals were many of his victims.

So if rights don’t come from governments or evolution, then where do they come from? To truly be rights, they can only come from an authoritative being whose nature is the very standard of perfect Goodness. That’s what we mean by God.

Without God there is no authoritative moral standard beyond humanity, which means that every action or behavior is merely a matter of human opinion. The murder of Jews, gypsies and homosexuals? It’s just your opinion against Hitler’s opinion. Child crucifixions? It’s just your opinion against that of ISIS. Freedom of speech? That’s just your opinion against that of a dictator. Gay bashing is bad? Again, just your opinion.

The same holds true with any supposed right, including the right to same-sex marriage. While you can get five judges to assert it is a right, without God, it is just an opinion (thus the Court’s judgment is aptly named).

But couldn’t God approve of same-sex marriage?

The major religious books state just the opposite. So does the Natural Law derived from God’s nature. Thomas Jefferson called this “Nature’s Law,” from which we get “self-evident truths,” including the truth that people “are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights.” Same-sex marriage is not one of those self-evident truths. In fact, Jefferson and other politically incorrect Founding Founders called homosexual acts “crimes against nature” because such acts go against the natural design of the body and frustrate the goal of perpetuating humanity. This observation is not based on bigotry but on biology. (It’s ironic that our Founding Fathers were more apt to follow science than today’s secular left who ignore science when they insist that biological gender is changeable and sexual behavior is not. The exact opposite is true!)

The issue of slavery does not invalidate Jefferson’s judgment. Jefferson understood that slavery was wrong and admitted so, even if he succumbed to the temptation to keep his slaves throughout his life (it was Darwin who believed in the “favored races”). Simple observation tells us that every race of human is fully human. And nature tells us that mixed-race marriages lead to healthy offspring. Indeed, experience has shown that bigger gene pools are healthier than smaller ones. The natural law that points away from homosexual relationships also points away from racism.

Since real rights can only come from God, if you want to insist same-sex marriage is a right then you must assume that God is for same-sex marriage. But then you must also assume the implausible notion that God wants you to harm your own health and that of the human race by contributing to its extinction. How’s that for love? Don’t be fruitful. Don’t multiply. Don’t survive. Same-sex marriage is not only on the wrong side of God and nature; it’s on the wrong side of humanity.

So if not from governments, evolution or God, where does the “right” to same-sex marriage come from? Our imaginations. Perhaps well intended imaginations, but imaginations nonetheless.

Love Didn’t Win– It Was Redefined

“Love wins” is the hashtag of choice for those in support of the newest Supreme Court decision that passed that legislative body by a 5-4 vote. If you’re not content with that, you’re just an evil bigot who needs to shut up and support this new legislation. Forget the fact that you have very rational reasons for keeping marriage between a man and a woman.  For example, genderless marriage changes the cultural understanding of marriage from the well being of children to merely the romantic desires of adults.  Mothering and fathering certainly isn’t genderless. For kids who all deserve a mom and a dad and need a culture to support that, love hasn’t won.

But you are to pay no attention to the children behind the curtain! If you don’t change your bigoted position (which isn’t really bigoted) many in the “Love wins” crowd will see to it that you are fired, fined, sued, run out of business and forced to violate your conscience and God. Churches too! (Wow, if this is “love,” I’d hate to see what hate looks like!)

Each side on this issue believes the other side is wrong. There is a moral judgment being made whether you are for or against redefining marriage. Morality is always legislated (or judicially imposed). So what is the right morality?

The Supreme Court has told us. Five justices imposed their own morality that elevates homosexuality to a virtue in our society. They say states can’t merely permit homosexual behavior (a neutral position); states must now promote it by granting benefits and, in Justice Kennedy’s words, “dignity” through the most “profound” union of marriage.

Those who don’t agree with this new morality imposed by the court are, in effect, the new sinners motivated by “disrespect” and “animosity” (“animosity” comes from Kennedy’s Lawrence decision—precedent he cited to justify his own animosity toward opponents of genderless marriage). Yes, unfortunately the Court smears all opponents of its new morality with the same judgmental bigotry it says it detests.

This raises a profound question that is central to this decision and every decision we make in politics. What is our standard? By what standard do we judge something right and its opposite wrong? By what standard do five justices elevate homosexuality to a virtue and declare any opposition to that position “animosity“ and “disrespect.”

The standard should have been the Constitution, but the Constitution was ignored in this case. Justice Roberts rightfully wrote in dissent, “The Constitution had nothing to do with it.” (Roberts ignored the clear reading of the law in the Obamacare case, but at least he got it right this time.) While the majority said they consulted the Constitution, Kennedy actually spent most of his opinion citing his own horrendously argued previous opinions that also ignored or distorted the real Constitution.

When you look at the real Constitution (the one the people actually passed, not the “evolving” one invented in the minds of politically motivated judges), it’s easy to see why this court is wrong. When the 14th Amendment was passed in 1868, homosexual behavior was a felony in every state, and women and blacks didn’t even have the right to vote. If the “equal protection” clause of the 14th Amendment didn’t even ensure a woman’s right to vote, it certainly doesn’t ensure a woman’s right to marry another woman!

And by Kennedy’s own admission just two years ago in the Windsor decision, marriage is a state, not a federal issue (unless a law violates the 14th amendment’s prohibition of racial discrimination, something that was not in play in this case). Now suddenly two years later, Kennedy, along with his mini legislature, decides that everyone, including himself, has been interpreting the 14th Amendment incorrectly for 147 years!

Want to give women and blacks the right to vote? Then amend the Constitution (which the people did). Want to make marriage a federal rather than a state issue, and change it into a genderless institution? Then the people need to amend the Constitution.

But the Court decided to ignore all that. Kennedy and his anti-democracy cohorts decided that they were the new standard. Not the Constitution. Not the people. Not God or His natural law, which gives us the “self-evident” truth that homosexual and heterosexual relationships are profoundly different in many ways, most importantly by their capacity to create and nurture children.

The personal opinions of five unelected justices now comprise the new standard that 320 million people must obey.  Ironic, given the fact that in 1992 Justice Kennedy wrote that everyone had “the right to define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life.” Now Justice Kennedy and his cohorts have abandoned that self-defeating, relativistic psychobabble and imposed on the entire nation a new absolute– their own meaning of marriage. Even if you are for genderless marriage, the fact that five unelected people think that their personal opinions are the standard for the rest of us should scare you.

If five people can ignore the Constitution and redefine the institution that holds together the foundation of civilization— the biological two-parent family—then no law or liberty is safe. That includes free speech and the free exercise of religion. (They are coming after those next.)

“Oh, but we have the Bill of Rights,” you say. “They can’t take those away.”

They already have to a certain extent. Ask the baker or the florist how that whole 1st Amendment free exercise of religion thing is working out for them right now in their bakery and flower shop?

With this group it doesn’t matter what the Constitution actually says. It doesn’t matter what laws you pass or what the words mean. It doesn’t matter that we are supposed to be governed by the rule of law not the whims of men. The whims of five people are now supreme—unless governors decide to evoke the Tenth Amendment and nullify this decision for their states, which they should. Is there a governor who will save this country from an imperial court? Is there an Andrew Jackson in a governor’s mansion anywhere?

The words of John Adams couldn’t be more fitting: “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”

Love hasn’t won—the immoral gods on the Supreme Court just changed its definition.

Turek-Shermer Debate: Is Morality Better Explained by God or Science?

Last week our friends at NewYorkApologetics.com hosted a debate on morality between me and Dr. Michael Shermer, publisher of Skeptic Magazine. You can see the raw streaming video from the debate here (a three camera professional video is forthcoming, but I’m not sure when).

You’ll notice that while both Michael and I agree that there are objective moral values, I am more interested in explaining why objective moral values exist (ontology), whereas Michael is more interested in how we know them (epistemology).  Of course, before you can know something it has to exist (this is the difference between the “order of being” and the “order of knowing”).  So why do objective moral values exist?  What grounds them (what is their foundation)?   I’ll leave it to you to judge who made the better case. (The first 30 minutes is just pre-debate happenings; you may want to skip that to get the opening statements).

Please tune in this morning at 10:05 am ET because I’ll be interviewing Michael Shermer for the full hour on CrossExamined radio.  If you miss the interview, please download the app.  It should be posted there by Monday.

(A special thanks goes out to Nick Mitchell and Anthony Uvenio of NewYorkApologetics.com who did a superb job organizing the debate and all the ensuing events in New York.  Want to learn how they did it?  Join them and others at CIA this year.  Hope to see you there.)

Sex is the New Religion

Sex is the new religion in America, and it’s a religion of the sword. That’s the real reason this controversy has risen in Indiana. A determined and vocal minority from the religion of sex is bullying and cutting down traditionalists who need a law that would allow them to be left alone. This clash of orthodoxies has opposing values with moralists on both sides demanding their rights.

One side says, “everyone must celebrate my same sex marriage” (a moral position). And the other side says, “God or my conscience prevents me from doing so” (also a moral position). Can anyone see any middle ground here? There is none. So the question is, whose moral “right” will take precedence?

Governors in Indiana, Arkansas and several other states see the need for protecting religious liberty for a very good reason—it is under attack. The scales have tipped decidedly against the free exercise of traditional religion—against the right of Christians, Muslims, Jews and anyone else who can’t celebrate the orthodoxy of the new religion.

Forget tolerance. This is well beyond tolerance. Now, if you don’t agree to celebrate same sex marriage, believers in the religion of sex will commence an inquisition and, without a trial, punish you for heresy. That’s why this legislation is necessary. Florists, bakers, photographers, real estate agents, Internet CEOs, and speakers like myself have all discovered personally that the people who say they are fighting for “tolerance” are often the most intolerant. In the name of “inclusion and diversity,” those of us who have a diverse view are being excluded, and even fired and fined because we won’t violate our beliefs to satisfy the overbearing clergy of the religion of sex.

A few years ago Cisco and Bank of America fired me as a training consultant because I had conservative beliefs about sex and marriage even though my beliefs were never expressed on the job. When a homosexual manager at Cisco found out on the Internet that I had authored a book giving evidence that maintaining the natural definition of marriage would be best for society, he couldn’t tolerate me and demanded that I be fired. An HR executive canned me within hours without ever speaking to me. This happened despite the fact that the leadership and teambuilding programs I led always received high marks (even from the homosexual manager!).

While I’m probably in the minority, I believe that people have the right to choose with whom they do business. In other words, I support Cisco’s right to fire me. My problem, as I explained here, is that they falsely claimed to be “inclusive and diverse” when they are anything but that. Their orthodoxy is just as closed and narrow as the most rabid fundamentalist church.

My friends David and Jason Benham agree with freedom of association and the rights of businesses as well. When members of the religion of sex learned that the evangelical Benham brothers were violating orthodoxy by being pro-life and pro-natural marriage, an inquisition began to get the Benhams fired from their TV show. Executives from HGTV ultimately caved to the demands of the dogmatic priests and cancelled the show, which was already in production. When Jason Benham told a TV reporter that HGTV had the right to fire them, the reporter’s jaw dropped. The Benhams are actually tolerant! So are most Christians (although there are some bad apples in every group).

Somehow people are getting the wrong impression about these state laws that seek to protect religious liberty. (Not that the media would ever misrepresent an issue related to homosexuality—we all know how fair and balanced they are.) This one graphic shows how these laws work. You’ll notice that they do not allow businesses to deny anyone service at a retail establishment. No one is doing that now, and you wouldn’t be in business very long if you did. The free market would see to it. Moreover, those who actually follow Jesus want to be with and serve unbelievers as Jesus did. We just can’t advocate events or ideas that go against Christ’s teaching on marriage (Mt. 19:4-6).

The truth is these laws are not swords but shields. They are intended to shield those in the traditional religions from those in the religion of sex who would like to use the sword of government to force the traditionalists to participate in ceremonies that go against their religion or conscience. In other words, the laws are designed to prevent discrimination against the traditionalists, not enable them to discriminate against those in the religion of sex.

America has a long history of successfully balancing a variety of religious and moral beliefs with other important interests. For example, even when military service was involuntary, we still made room for conscientious objectors who did not want to carry weapons. If we can allow people to exempt themselves from defending the country—which is the most important responsibility our government has—we can certainly allow people to exempt themselves from performing same-sex wedding ceremonies!

What compelling government interest is there to force someone to support a same-sex wedding? It’s not like there is a shortage of people willing to do them. If a 70 year-old grandmother who is a florist can’t arrange flowers at your same-sex wedding, why not just go to someone else who would be happy to do it? (Is it really that hard to find a gay florist?) Why don’t we ever hear about traditionalists suing gay business owners for refusing to print up anti-gay marriage fliers? Why is “tolerance” only a one-way street to the religion of sex?

Should a Muslim caterer be forced to do a same sex wedding? Should a Muslim T-shirt maker be forced to print gay pride T-shirts or those that satirize Mohammad? (The religion of sex would prefer we don’t use Muslims in our questions; stick to Christians please.)

There is no compelling government interest to force a business to do a wedding or print up anything against their beliefs. That’s why the religion of sex is distorting the facts and throwing a temper tantrum to get government to force people to violate their conscience. (Their approach reminds me of what bad preachers write in the margin of their sermon notes: “Logic weak here—pound pulpit!”) Apparently, the religion of sex just can’t tolerate the fact that some people won’t accept their false doctrines by faith.

I wish there was a compromise position here but there isn’t. We have two opposing values in direct conflict. The religion of sex values the sword of government compulsion over the freedom of religion and conscience. Do you?

The 14th Amendment Can’t Possibly Require Same-Sex Marriage

The Supreme Court is about to decide if the 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution requires the states to redefine marriage to include same sex relationships. There are several reasons why the answer is no.

The most decisive of these reasons is the fact that when the 14th Amendment was passed in 1868, homosexual behavior was a felony in every state in the union. So if the 14th Amendment was intended to require same-sex marriage, then every state in the union intended to throw the new couple into prison as soon as the marriage was consummated!

Some may say, “Who cares what they believed in 1868 about homosexuality? We’ve evolved since then.”

That’s addressed by the second reason: laws and words have specific scopes and meanings. They don’t have unlimited flexibility as liberal justices tend to think. Neither the intent nor the text of the Constitution requires the states to redefine marriage. If the people of the United States have “evolved” on the issue, then the Constitution provides them with a very clear and fair way for the document to intelligently “evolve”—they need to convince a supermajority of federal and state legislatures to amend the Constitution. That’s the very reason our Constitution has an amendment process!

If we fail to use the amendment process and permit judges to substitute their own definitions and judgments for what the people actually meant when they passed the law in the first place, then we no longer govern ourselves. Why vote or use the political process if unelected justices strike down our laws and impose their own as they go? In fact, why have a Constitution at all? If it’s “evolving” or “living,” then it’s not really a collective agreement of the people—it’s a pretext that allows judges to invent rights and impose any moral (or immoral) position they want against the will of the people.

Imagine if the people were to pass an amendment guaranteeing a right to same-sex marriage. Would you consider the Supreme Court to be legitimate if it imposed its own position and overturned the amendment? No, the people decide what the laws are, not the Court.

Third, the 14th Amendment was intended to prevent states from discriminating against newly freed slaves.  At that time blacks and women didn’t even have the right to vote, yet no court ever thought it could use the “equal protection” clause to change state voting laws. So why do some district courts think they can use it now to change state marriage laws?  Are we to believe that “equal protection” does not guarantee a woman’s right to vote but does guarantee a woman’s right to marry another woman? 

Since the people “evolved” on voting rights, they convinced supermajorities in Congress and of the state legislatures voted to add the 15th and 19th Amendments in 1870 and 1920 respectively. The courts knew they shouldn’t act as legislatures to grant rights not addressed by the Constitution. Neither should this Supreme Court.

Fourth, despite all the talk about equal rights, everyone already has equal marriage rights. Every person has the same equal right to marry someone of the opposite sex. That law treats all people equally, but not every behavior they may desire equally. If people with homosexual desires do not have equal rights, then people with desires to marry their relatives or more than one person don’t have equal rights. The “born that way” justification doesn’t work either because that same justification could make any desired arrangement “marriage,” which means the logic behind it is absurd. The Court needs to acknowledge the fact that natural marriage, same sex-marriage, incestuous marriage, and polygamous marriage are all different behaviors with different outcomes, so the law rightfully treats those behaviors differently while giving every citizen the equal right to participate in marriage whatever its legal definition is.

Finally, the states make marriage law, not the feds. The U.S. Constitution says nothing about marriage. While the Supreme Court did overturn Virginia’s ban on inter-racial marriage, it did so because Virginia discriminated on the basis of race, which is precisely what the 14th Amendment was intended to prevent. There is no rational reason to discriminate on the basis of race because race is irrelevant to marriage. However, gender is essential to it. Even the 2013 Windsor decision, which partially struck down the federal Defense of Marriage Act, recognized that marriage is a state, not a federal issue. Since there is no 14th Amendment issue here, the Court must leave marriage to the states.

Legal reasons such as these are all the Court is constitutionally permitted to consider. Polls and policy considerations are for the people or their legislatures, not the courts. Ryan T. Anderson writes in his recent column titled Memo to Supreme Court: Nothing in the Constitution Requires States to Redefine Marriage: “The overarching question before the Supreme Court is not whether an exclusively male–female marriage policy is the best, but only whether it is allowed by the U.S. Constitution. The question is not whether government-recognized same-sex marriage is good or bad policy, but only whether it is required by the U.S. Constitution.”

Does the U.S. Constitution require same-sex marriage? No, the U.S. Constitution requires the Court to leave this issue to the states. If you believe otherwise, then amend the Constitution.