New Book On Religious Liberty Can Pivot Public Discourse Back in Right Direction

The debate over cultural issues sadly isn’t going anywhere in this country. Whether it’s public schools pushing for the normalization of transgenderism or the media cheering on the prospect of imprisoning those who disagree with gay marriage, public discourse on the matter has been lost.

If you dissent from the “popular opinion” of the day, your view is to be wholly condemned and subsequent shaming of your views will ensue. We’ve reached a boiling point where we must accept everything, rather than offer peaceful and respectful disagreement through tolerance–or face punishment. A new book on religious liberty by three of the most prominent Millennial-aged scholars on the marriage debate — two for the preservation of the institution, the other in favor of redefinition–have a new book that can help pivot civil discourse in the right direction.

I recently finished Debating Religious Liberty and Discrimination by John Corvino, Ryan T. Anderson, and Sherif Girgis. Corvino is a proponent of gay marriage and previously co-authored a book Debating Same-Sex Marriage with Maggie Gallagher. He holds a Ph.D., teaches at, and chairs the Philosophy Department at Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan. Anderson and Girgis are well known in conservative circles, with the former serving as the William E. Simon Senior Research Fellow in American Principles & Public Policy at Heritage Foundation and the latter a PhD candidate in philosophy at Princeton University. They co-authored What Is Marriage?: Man and Woman: A Defense with Princeton University Professor Robbie George in December 2012.

What I found was how sound and convincing each argument presented in the point-counterpoint format was throughout the book–offering solid points and arguments for both views surrounding the debate over religious liberty and discrimination. Corvino articulated the leftist view on religious liberty quite well and offered sound arguments for his position–even though I vehemently disagreed with his assessment. Alternatively, Anderson and Girgis articulated the conservative position on these issues in the typical intellectual way they normally do–affirming why they are two of the leading voices on social conservatism today.

If you want a book that promotes open-mindedness and offers a fair account of the religious liberty issue, this book will help vill that void.

Most of our readers, myself included, believe in religious liberty and that certain protections should apply to those who don’t want to violate their conscience, with respect to soliciting services or products for religious ceremonies. Conservatives and libertarians also believe private companies have the right to refuse service or terminate employment — even if it’s unfair or politically motivated. But we should hear out our opponents if they can civilly articulate their perspectives on the issues. More speech, not less.

So much of public discourse has been lost and muddled by those who disregard free speech and the free exchange of ideas in the public square. Debating Religious Liberty will help renew your faith in the art of debate and exchange of ideas with respect to cultural issues. Check it out.

DR Radio

DR Radio: Charlie Held Hostage and Cultural Litmus Tests

  • What in the world is going on with healthcare?
  • Are Christians allowed to watch Game of Thrones?
  • Who gets to decide what happens to Charlie Gard?
  • Is the Eugene Peterson story proof that “you will be made to care”?

We look at these questions and more in this episode of DR Radio! You can listen to the audio, subscribe to the podcast, or read the full show notes over on our website.

(note: the video is missing the first 35 secs)

Outrage Over Pence’s Marriage Illustrates Exactly Why the Left Can’t Be Trusted With Marital Policy

The absolute hysteria on the left surrounding revelations of the Pence marriage is completely indicative of their view of marriage and it perfectly illustrates why we on the right were never able to trust them with the concept of marriage during the whole gay marriage debate in the first place.

What the right knew was that what most of the left was talking about providing for the homosexual community was not actually marriage, but a watered down, fantasized version of marriage. Most conservatives like me never believed a gay person shouldn’t be able to enter into a contractual relationship based on romance with another human being. That’s ridiculous and pointless. Pretending gay people don’t want commitments doesn’t make it not real.

What we did have a problem with was the idea that “marriage” as a term was being redefined apart from its actual roots and the definition that is enjoyed and exalted by every culture on this earth.

While the pearl-clutchers at places like HuffPo and Jezebel fret about the “horror” of a man choosing not to spend time alone with another woman out of respect for his wife and her feelings, those of us who have actually been married for a while know exactly what he meant.

Whether or not you would do the same in your own marriage is beside the point. Pence wasn’t scolding anyone for not acting as he did. He was simply explaining that in a strong marriage one doesn’t open the door for temptation or even whispering among one’s community (this is especially important for a politician, don’t you think?).

We live in a country where people celebrate the idea of a woman being required to cover her head and neck lest a man be tempted by her, but Pence gets excoriated like Anthony Weiner at a Twitter headquarters party for even suggesting that showing deference to one’s wife even when there is no need is the duty of a husband. You’d think the feminists would be all over this one. Pence clearly puts his wife first.

Hello?

Marriage is a complicated and nuanced institution. It is a partnership that requires stamina and sacrifice. It is not a piece of paper, or even simply a man-made concept. It is a game changer that transforms who you are as a person and how you view your responsibilities to others.

Those who don’t take marriage seriously – in this case that’s anyone outraged by Pence’s statements about his own marriage – are outraged because they don’t understand that marriage is more than a feeling. They think people who really love each other will never hurt each other, and always make the right choice. That’s so ignorant of literally every second of human nature and so obviously naive it boggles the mind.

Those of us who have been married a while know that a good marriage doesn’t happen by accident. You don’t “fall” into one like you fall in love. Falling in love is the easy part. Being love (the noun) takes effort. Married couples understand that the effort to grow and nourish a marriage means doing things unmarried people might judge as weird or unnecessary.

Having dinner alone with a person of the opposite sex might seem like a little thing, and it is. But over decades of marriage it is the accumulation of little things that will erode even the most solid of foundations.

Some marriage rookies might be surprised to find out the strongest couples become very deliberate about scheduling date nights, scheduling times to talk privately, even scheduling sex sometimes. Doesn’t sound very romantic, does it? It isn’t. But it is necessary because time erodes passion. If you do nothing to counteract that erosion you are simply resigning to your ultimate failure.

It might not seem like scheduling 10 minutes a week to discuss whatever with your spouse is that serious and it isn’t. That is the point. It isn’t until it is. Wise couples understand it is those little, unserious things will end up drilling a hole right through your defensive walls. When you drop the little things you’re only giving them time to grow into big things.

Pence and his wife are partners and as such are the only ones with intimate knowledge of their feelings, personalities, and needs. Pence also happens to be in politics, which isn’t exactly well known for its upstanding, moral participants. The Pences understand their specific challenges and have structured their marriage accordingly in a constant preemptive strike against any temptation or mistrust.

This is not old-fashioned or oppressive or weird…it is wise. It is exactly what a lasting marriage takes. If you don’t understand this… if you think a president getting blow jobs in the Oval Office from a woman who isn’t his wife and barely old enough to qualify as a woman is “no one’s business” but the Pence comments about respect for his marriage are outrageous….if this is your mindset then you are not qualified to speak about or enjoy this difficult but rewarding institution.

Clearly too many people in this country do not deserve to be involved in the defining of marriage rights and responsibilities.

Leave Chip and Joanna Gaines Alone

Millions of Americans tune to HGTV every Tuesday to watch Fixer Upper with Chip and Joanna Gaines. Why? The Waco, Texas-based couple has a keen eye for design, provides family-friendly content, and is largely successful in their trade. Together, the couple have made the New York Times Bestsellers List, built up the Magnolia brand, and always pay tribute to their humble roots.

In the October 2016 edition of Texas Monthly, the Gaineses are credited with helping revitalize Waco, TX:

But a funny thing happened along the way to success. Chip and Joanna Gaines and their idyllic show about living an idyllic life in an idyllic place became the unwitting symbol of the redemption of a storied Texas city that had had mostly negative national attention: the Branch Davidians, Baylor’s athletics scandals, the Twin Peaks biker shoot-out—and those are just the recent ones. Out of all that somehow came Chip and Joanna Gaines going about their business, not hanging their heads in embarrassment and shame.

Somehow, against every odd in the world, Waco has become a tourist destination, a lifestyle aspiration, a relocation consideration, and it’s all because of Chip and Joanna Gaines.

With all this success, someone will find a bone to pick to tarnish their good name. And unfortunately, someone has. The couple is now subject to a witch hunt by the geniuses at Buzzfeed. Their crime? Attending a church in Waco, TX that preaches marriage between one man and one woman:

Their church, Antioch Community Church, is a nondenominational, evangelical, mission-based megachurch. And their pastor, Jimmy Seibert, who described the Gaineses as “dear friends” in a recent video, takes a hard line against same-sex marriage and promotes converting LGBT people into being straight.

So are the Gaineses against same-sex marriage? And would they ever feature a same-sex couple on the show, as have HGTV’s House Hunters and Property Brothers? Emails to Brock Murphy, the public relations director at their company, Magnolia, were not returned. Nor were emails and calls to HGTV’s PR department.

Fixer Upper has fans of all stripes: Christiansfeminists, and LGBT viewers have all found something to love in the Gaineses. So in the absence of a response from them or their representatives, it’s worth looking at the severe, unmoving position Seibert and Antioch take on same-sex marriage.

The question beckons: who cares what church they go to? Is the Buzzfeed writer aware that they live in a conservative town in a conservative state, making it likely they hold these supposed views on marriage? Who cares! Fixer Upper is about remodeling, not politics. Why does this home improvement show have to be politicized?

Here’s something that’ll deeply disturb Buzzfeed: the Gaineses are devout Christians. The horror, the horror!

https://www.facebook.com/IamSecond/videos/10154584125844183/

This targeting of the Gaineses is not uncharacteristic in this day and age. The Left and their surrogates in so-called “news” outlets are looking to stir the pot and divide Americans. If you dissent from their worldview, you are a bigot, sexist, racist, homophobe-the works. It’s no wonder why Trump, for all of his faults, won: people are sick and tired of the elites in all spheres attacking the American way of life.

Chip and Joanna Gaines are good, wholesome people who bring joy to Texans and millions across the country. They are respectful, courteous, kind folks who are devout Christians. Entertainment needs more people like them, not fewer.

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Coming State Battles Over Same-Sex Marriage Could Be Huge Opportunity for Conservatives

Despite the political focus on same-sex marriage, arguably the most disastrous marriage policy – no-fault divorce – was implemented, with bipartisan support, 40 years ago. However, arguing against the devastation caused by no-fault divorce laws will require conservatives to do some soul-searching about our own failings. If the current rumblings about marriage privatization as a means to resist a Supreme Court mandate on same-sex marriage materialize into concrete policy, it will provide the perfect opportunity for conservatives to contract around liberal divorce laws that undervalue the principle of marital permanence in their own marriages.

What is Fault Divorce?

Prior to the 1970s, most state laws recognized only fault divorce: in order to obtain a divorce, the divorcing spouse had to prove the “fault” of the other spouse in court. In non-legalese, in order to break the marriage contract, the divorcing spouse had to show good reason – wrongdoing by the other party. The grounds for granting divorce differed in each state, but the four most common, legally-accepted reasons were adultery, abandonment, abuse, and felony conviction. The most common reason given today, “irreconcilable differences,” was not accepted as a legal ground for divorce.

While the earliest known no-fault divorce regime was enacted in post-revolutionary Russia in 1918,[1] the first no-fault law in the United States was passed in California in 1969. It was signed by none other than then-Governor Ronald Reagan, reacting to the pain of having to accept a court designation of “mental cruelty” in order to obtain his own divorce in 1948.  He later called it one of the biggest mistakes of his political career, but other states followed at whirlwind speed; by 1987 some form of no-fault divorce was available in all 50 states.

The effect of no-fault divorce has been devastating and nearly as immediate as its high-speed implementation. Although proponents insisted that the reforms would not increase divorce rates, and would instead merely make divorce less acrimonious to the benefit of children, the divorce rate nearly doubled from 27 percent in 1965 to 48 percent in 1975, after the vast majority of no-fault laws were on the books.[2] (The New York Times dishonestly quotes the marginal fall in divorce rates from 1979, well after most no-fault laws were in place, to today in support of the policy.)

While there were certainly other factors in play as the “free love” principles of the sexual revolution metastasized in the 1970s, it seems likely that the sudden increase in divorce rates was connected to the liberalization of divorce laws and consequent cultural acceptance of divorce.  While fewer than 20 percent of couples who married in 1950 divorced, about 50 percent of those who married in 1970 did so. The American divorce rate, despite going through ups and downs throughout its history, never broke 30 percent until the introduction of no-fault laws.[3]

To be clear, the fault divorce system still allowed couples to divorce under the most extreme circumstances, including violence, substance abuse, infidelity, or abandonment. What it did not do was give legal imprimatur to what are now culturally-accepted, but ultimately frivolous, reasons for marriage dissolution, such as adult unhappiness that does not rise to the level of abuse or infidelity.

Contractual opt-outs for those who want conservative marriages

Although many conservatives have brought up some serious challenges to those advocating the privatization of marriage, there is an upside for conservatives that many neglect: the ability to contract around liberal divorce laws in our own marriages in a privatized system. I’ll confess to having some skin in the game; with my own wedding approaching in July, I would very much like to legally obligate both my fiancé and myself to the traditional marital order. In our “Eat, Pray, Love” culture, which celebrates abandonment of martial vows and family obligations on the heady whims of emotional fulfillment, it would benefit conservative couples to unambiguously lay out from the beginning that “putting asunder” is only an option in the most extreme circumstances.

University of Virginia marriage researcher W. Bradford Wilcox wrote in National Affairs:

In this new psychological approach to married life, one’s primary obligation was not to one’s family but to one’s self; hence, marital success was defined not by successfully meeting obligations to one’s spouse and children but by a strong sense of subjective happiness in marriage — usually to be found in and through an intense, emotional relationship with one’s spouse.

Explicitly placing the principle of permanence at the legal heart of our own marriages would stand as an example to the larger culture, as well as probably helping to reduce the red-state divorce rate. While the Supreme Court bolsters the liberal marriage culture by defining the importance of marriage for those who “seek to find its fulfillment for themselves,” opting out of no-fault divorce will allow conservatives to put their money where their mouths are and place marital stability and children’s outcomes before chasing personal happiness. As the late, great, Andrew Breitbart was fond of saying, politics is downstream from culture. That the Republican front-runner is a twice-divorced unrepentant philanderer should be a wake-up call for all of us that the liberal marriage culture has hit Americans, even those generally in the conservative camp, hard. Regardless of their opinions on privatizing marriage, conservatives should seize the silver lining privatization offers to lead a resurgent marriage culture.

 

[1] No-Fault Divorce: Born in the Soviet Union?, David Bolas, 14 Family L. J. 31 (1975); “The Russian Effort To Abolish Marriage”, The Atlantic Monthly, July 1926, p. 108-114.

[2] Austin Caster, Why Same-Sex Marriage Will Not Repeat the Errors of No-Fault Divorce, 38 W. St. U. L. Rev. 43, 46 (2010)

[3] Id.

DR Radio February 5, 2016: Embryos from 3, Drafting GI Jane & Persecuting Freedom

Welcome to the February 5, 2016 edition of DR Radio! In this episode Hadley, Brian, and Jay discuss the Brave New World, Frankenstein, Island of Dr. Moreau, Gattica mashup of embryos from three adults, women being included in the draft and Christian persecution in Africa and the UK. This week’s Games of Wit include Trump vs. The Nobel Peace Prize. To see the show notes, go here: http://deadreckoning.tv/drrfebruary5/

To subscribe to the podcast: iTunes | Android | RSS | Mp3

Two Years Later, You’ll Still Be Made to Care

In the last twenty-four hours, much of the mainstream media has shown itself perfectly willing to serve as agents of Satan (or should I use Moloch to make you feel better?). Most of the news anchors, reporters, and opinion writers of the press are perfectly fine forcing you to violate your conscience as long as they do not have to.

They have suddenly discovered Jesus dined with sinners. They just ignore that he said “go and sin no more.” There is no evidence Jesus baked a cake to celebrate sin, but the media wants you to think he did. Just pay no attention to the guy in the Bible who spoke the most about hell fire. Oh wait, that would be the very same Jesus.

Two years ago this week, I coined the phrase “you will be made to care.” The media have long served to push along the leftwing agenda. Their reporting on Indiana is a greater mythological fiction than how they view Jesus. In light of the press’s advocacy, not reporting, in the last twenty-four hours in defense of hypothetical gays shut out of hypothetical businesses, it is worth revisiting the genesis of “You Will Be Made to Care.”

First, you are not loving your neighbor if you are cool with them going to hell. Do you want to go to hell? No? Well then how are you loving your neighbor as yourself if you’re cool with him going to hell? Leading people to Christ requires leading them to ask Christ to forgive them of their sins. It requires a deeper understanding of what is a sin. The Bible is clear. Same sex sexual relations is a sin, as is lying, greed, gluttony, adultery, etc. — no more or less worse than any other sin — and Christ himself is clear that marriage is between one man and one woman.

My church does not treat marriage as a sacrament, but it would be a sin to alter that which God himself ordained and established as an institution. Active sin without repenting, and without even feeling the need to repent, should be a big red flag on anyone’s salvation.

Gay rights advocates on the steady march toward and past gay marriage will make you care. They will not give you room to sit on the fence.

Tim Keller got a lot of heat two years ago for saying that “you can believe homosexuality is a sin and still believe that same-sex marriage should be legal.” He was not talking about himself. He was talking about the compromise many young evangelicals are making.

Some, though, are going the next step to “I. Do. Not. Care.”

The left will allow no fence sitting. You may not believe me. You may think me hyperbolic. But the history of the world shows this. Events ultimately come to a head. They boil to their essence. And at that point you must choose.

That is why so many Christians are fighting. Because we see in Europe and Canada what will happen here. Christianity is a religion of the city square. Christ compels us to “go forth and teach.” It is the Great Commission. We cannot go forth and teach when the left bars us from the town square.

Many people say we should have legal gay marriage, but not have religious gay marriage. The left will not honor the distinction. Look to Canada. Preachers can be brought up for hate crimes charges merely for discussing passages of the Bible that deal with same sex sexual relations. You may not care that it is a sin, but the world surely does. Look at Louie Giglio, who could not honor the President at his inauguration because of his orthodox Christian beliefs on this subject.

In short, you may choose not to care and in so doing sit on the sidelines or give aid and comfort to the open minded and tolerant who want gay marriage so everyone can have equal rights.

But the world will one day make you care. Your church, should it open its doors to all, but refuse to perform a same sex wedding, will be accused of discrimination. In some places, the church will be forced to stop performing weddings. Many churches will lose their tax exempt status. The costs of sharing the gospel will go up.

Already Christians are being harassed by fellow American citizens for not wanting to participate in a gay marriage.

The time will come, more quickly than you can imagine, when you will be made to care.

We are not using the state to enforce the commands of Scripture. We are using the state to protect our ability to preach the scripture under the first amendment. If the state has the power to change the definition of an institution that it did not create, but that God himself created, the state can compel and coerce the church to honor that definition or sit on the sidelines and shut up.

A Christian on the sidelines is a Christian not going forth. You can be a sincere Christian and support the idea of gay marriage. But you would also be foolish to ignore what is going to happen to the church once the state decides something is a matter of equal protection. You can dismiss me now, but you are ignoring what’s already happening.

Keep in mind as well that many of those who you may look to for reassurance that I’m wrong are hostile to the church already and will not be on the side of the church as the equal protection arguments against it grow.

The state did not create marriage and it should not now exert the power to change the definition of that which it did not create. Those of you who are Christians who support gay marriage will one day have Archbishop Chaput burning in your ears. He said that evil peddles tolerance until it is dominant then seeks to silence good. That’s why Christians fight on this issue. It is not to force themselves on others, but to protect themselves from others being forced on them.